Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Katie Wang


People with disabilities (PWD) face many existing barriers and unjust conditions that contribute to negative psychosocial outcomes. PWD have also been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has introduced unique sources of stress and trauma in the disability community. However, scant research attention has been paid toward its effects on the mental health of PWD, especially factors that may buffer risk or foster positive psychological outcomes. Therefore, this study investigates the impact of pandemic-related stress on posttraumatic growth (PTG), or the perceived psychological benefits accrued as a result of struggle with a major life challenge or crisis (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1996). It was hypothesized that pandemic stress would predict PTG. Participants (N = 468) were recruited online via disability-focused social media platforms and email listserves, and comprised a diverse sample in terms of both disability and demographic characteristics. In a preliminary simple linear regression analysis, higher pandemic stress predicted lower PTG (p < .001). However, once a number of other factors were introduced through hierarchical regression analysis, pandemic stress no longer significantly predicted PTG. Rather, direct and indirect COVID exposures, strength of disability identity (specifically, contribution to the disability community), and numerous demographic and disability-related covariates were significantly associated with PTG (p < .05), suggesting that a broad range of factors work to impact pandemic-related PTG among PWD.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access