Exploring the association between forgiveness, meaning-making, and post-traumatic stress symptoms: The case of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

Prior research suggests that meaning-making and forgiveness are associated with lower post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) following exposure to trauma. Few studies have examined these factors in the aftermath of natural disasters. This study therefore aimed to investigate the relationship between meaning-making and forgiveness, and their association with PTSS after the 2017 Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Bivariate correlations and hierarchical regression analyses indicated that meaning-making and forgiveness were negatively correlated with PTSS. Higher levels of “presence of meaning,” “self-forgiveness,” “forgiveness of others,” and “feeling forgiven by God” were significantly associated with lower levels of PTSS. Conversely, “search for meaning” was positively associated with PTSS. The results suggest the importance of meaning-making and forgiveness education for building and promoting well-being in the face of extreme stressors.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ijer.2022

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