Demographic and childhood environmental predictors of resilience in a community sample

J Psychiatr Res. 2009 Aug;43(12):1007-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2009.01.013. Epub 2009 Mar 4.


Scientific investigation of resilient responses to stress and trauma has the potential to inform models of the etiology, treatment, and prevention of stress-related psychiatric disorders (e.g. posttraumatic stress disorder). Despite building interest in and investigation of resilience, many basic questions regarding this construct remain unstudied. This study contributes to the empirical literature on resilience by providing novel information on the distribution and correlates of stress resilience in the general community. A well-validated self-report measure of resilience was completed by a large sample (N=764) of respondents to a telephone-based community survey that also included questions about demographics and history of childhood maltreatment. Multiple regression analyses showed that several demographic characteristics (sex, education level, and income level) uniquely predicted subjects' resilience to stress and that, taken together, these factors explained approximately 11% of the variance in resilience. Reported history of childhood maltreatment independently contributed to prediction of resilience and explained an additional 2% of the variance in this trait. While females, individuals with lower levels of education and income, and individuals with histories of childhood maltreatment reported diminished resilience overall, the majority of variance in the resilience measure was left unexplained leaving much room for other variables to influence a person's resilience to stress. Relationships of the present results to other research on resilient and pathological stress responses are discussed, as well as implications of these findings for future investigations of resilience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Demography*
  • Environment*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Regression Analysis
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Self Concept
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Young Adult