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Post traumatic growth (PTG) research

Post traumatic growth (PTG) has attracted a lot of attention in recent years.  It is defined as “positive experience and feeling one earns as a result of going through some negative traumatic events”. 


The idea of cancer patients or family members experiencing something positive out of the illness does not mean to undermine the actual pain, suffering and loss brought along by the disease and treatment process.  Nonetheless, there is a possibility that “psychological growth” can be achieved when one can attach a meaning to the adversity.


Since 2010, the Foundation has been conducting research on PTG among local childhood cancer survivors.  This is the first study inHong Kongthat bridges the theoretical gap in this area of research.


Research finding suggests that patients with higher level of hope, more positive thoughts tend to have stronger post-traumatic growth.  Therefore, they are better adjusted in their life.


In Phase I of the research, 89 survivors aged 17-31 were recruited from CCF’s Long-term Follow-up Club.


Important clinical implications from the findings are outlined below:

  1. Cultivation of hope is a clinically significant preventive measure in intervention.
  2. Hopeful cognition can be learnt through hope-based story-telling and psychotherapy.
  3. A deliberate benefit finding technique is needed to help the patients and survivors to identify “positive thoughts” or “sense of meanings” of the experience of having cancer in the psychotherapy session.
  4. Programme design that is aimed at increasing childhood cancer patients’ hope level can be an effective form of clinical intervention.
  5. Early intervention for child and adolescent patients receiving radiotherapy is necessary. 


The findings will help CCF develop evidence-based psychosocial services in the future.  This research is an ongoing exercise and further implications will be studied.