The effect of strategies of personal resilience on depression recovery in an Australian cohort: a mixed methods study

Health (London). 2015 Jan;19(1):86-106. doi: 10.1177/1363459314539774. Epub 2014 Jun 24.


Strategies of personal resilience enable successful adaptation in adversity. Among patients experiencing depression symptoms, we explored which personal resilience strategies they find most helpful and tested the hypothesis that use of these strategies improves depression recovery. We used interview and survey data from the Diagnosis, Management and Outcomes of Depression in Primary Care 2005 cohort of patients experiencing depression symptoms in Victoria, Australia. A total of 564 participants answered a computer-assisted telephone interview question at 12 months follow-up, about what they found most helpful for their depression, stress or worries. Depressive disorder and severity were measured at annual follow-up using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview and the Patient Health Questionnaire self-rating questionnaire. Using interview responses, we categorised participants as users or not of strategies of personal resilience, specifically, drawing primarily on expanding their own inner resources or pre-existing relationships: 316 (56%) were categorised as primarily users of personal resilience strategies. Of these, 193 (61%) reported expanding inner resources, 79 (25%) drawing on relationships and 44 (14%) reported both. There was no association between drawing on relationships and depression outcome. There was evidence supporting an association between expanding inner resources and depression outcome: 25 per cent of users having major depressive disorder 1 year later compared to 38 per cent of non-users (adjusted odds ratio: 0.59, confidence interval: 0.36-0.97). This is the first study to show improved outcome for depression for those who identify as most helpful the use of personal resilience strategies. The difference in outcome is important as expanding inner resources includes a range of low intensity, yet commonly available strategies.

Keywords: Australia; cohort; depression; mixed methods; resilience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Data Collection
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Qualitative Research
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Self-Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Support*
  • Victoria