Learning from adults with a lifelong congenital heart condition: Promoting post traumatic growth & mental health during COVID-19

Liza Morton, Nicola Cogan, Calum Calderwood

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Background: Adults with congenital heart disease (CHD) have lifelong experience of dealing with potentially traumatic health crises and show increased vulnerability to anxiety, depression and PTSD. The COVID-19 pandemic presents a further challenge for the CHD population who face greater risk of serious complications from the virus, psychological impacts of shielding such as increased isolation, changes to medical care provision, as well as social stigma of media narratives around 'herd immunity'. While adults with CHD may also experience positive post-traumatic growth (PTG) in the face of such challenges, little is known as to what helps cultivate positive adaptation and PTG.

Objectives: This study aimed to investigate which psychosocial factors contribute towards positive adaptation and PGT in the CHD population during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Method: A cross-sectional study online, anonymous Qualtrics survey was conducted with adults with CHD (n = 236). Ethical approval was granted by the University Ethics Committee. The survey measured the impact of COVID-19 and shielding on mental health using both closed and open-ended questions, as well as a series of standardised psychosocial measures of traumatic experiences, coping mechanisms, emotional regulation and PTG.

Findings: Regression analysis revealed the importance of emotional regulation and adaptive coping mechanisms in predicting increased PTG and positive adaptation among the CHD population during the pandemic.

Conclusions: These findings suggest the importance of fostering healthy emotional regulation and adaptive coping mechanisms in promoting PTG among adults with CHD. We recommend a growth-focused, psychologically and trauma-informed approach to medicine and public health, recognising the importance of promoting mental health and living well with CHD during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2021
EventTrinity Health and Education International Research Conference 2021 : 'Transforming Healthcare in a Changing World: New Ways of Thinking and Working' - Online , Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 9 Mar 202111 Mar 2021
Conference number: ID 51


ConferenceTrinity Health and Education International Research Conference 2021
Abbreviated titleTHEconf2021
Internet address


  • COVID-19
  • mental health
  • trauma
  • congenital heart condition

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