Semester of Graduation

May 2024


Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



In recent years, there has been an increase in interest among researchers to understand the impact of severe weather events on measures of health and well-being across the adult lifespan. Previous studies have shown that older age and state hope may act as protective factors that are associated with reduced mental health impacts of hurricanes and flooding. While most prior studies have examined the physical and mental health impacts of severe weather events, very few studies have examined post-traumatic growth in a disaster context, and virtually no prior studies have directly compared younger and older adult samples. Therefore, the present study examined the role of age (younger, older) and hurricane exposure (indirect, direct) on state hope and post-traumatic growth in the years after the 2021 Hurricane Ida. In all, 128 participants (64 younger, 64 older) completed the State Hope Scale (SHS; Snyder et al., 1996) and the Current-Standing Post-traumatic Growth Inventory–Short Form (C-PTGI-SF; Kaur et al., 2017). They also completed a sociodemographic questionnaire (age, education, income, occupation, self-reported health) and a structured storm questionnaire (SSQ; Cherry et al., 2023) that assessed hurricane damage, recovery stressors, fear of storms, and prior lifetime trauma. Analyses of variance (ANOVAs) with age (younger, older) and exposure (indirect, direct) as between group factors were carried out on state hope (agency, pathways) as a core individual difference variable and the C-PTGI-SF scores as the primary outcome measure. Results indicated that the age and exposure groups did not differ on state hope total, agency, and pathways scores. In contrast, there was a significant main effect of age on the C-PTGI-SF scores, where older adults had greater post-traumatic growth than the younger adults did, with no other significant effects. Correlation analyses were carried out to demonstrate predicted relationships among age, exposure, disaster stressors, state hope (agency, pathways), and C-PTGI-SF scores. Results yielded new evidence of age and state hope as correlates of post-traumatic growth. Contrary to expectation, disaster stressors were not related to post-traumatic growth after Hurricane Ida. This pattern of outcomes has important theoretical and practical implications for reducing vulnerabilities after exposure to severe weather events.



Committee Chair

Cherry, Katie E.

Available for download on Friday, March 28, 2025