Finding benefits in the aftermath of Australia's Black Saturday bushfires: Can distant witnesses find benefits and do benefits found relate to better adjustment?
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This study aimed to extend the meaning literature beyond finding meaning in personal trauma by examining the benefits found by persons who were distant witnesses to Australia’s Black Saturday bushfires. One hundred and twenty-five university students who witnessed the bushfires through the media completed measures of meaning making coping, benefits found, and adjustment. The most strongly endorsed categories of benefits found by distant witnesses were increased faith in people and increased compassion. After controlling for demographics, the duration of media exposure to the bushfires and meaning making coping, hierarchical multiple regression analyses demonstrated that the perceived benefit of enhanced self-efficacy predicted poorer adjustment, whereas the perceived benefits of increased spirituality and enhanced family closeness predicted better adjustment. Future longitudinal research is necessary to examine the direction of the relationships between categories of benefits found and adjustment. Clinical implications of the research are discussed.
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