In their Own Words: Resilience among Haitian Survivors of the 2010 Earthquake

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2016;27(2):580-603. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2016.0100.


Social sciences literature highlights the importance of resilience in relation to risk and trauma. The 2010 Haitian earthquake compounded trauma for a nation that has endured slavery/despotic leadership, structural violence and poverty. Since 2010, various sources broadly describe Haitian survivors as resilient. We reviewed definitions of resilience published between 1990 and 2013, comparing them with perspectives of earthquake survivors from economically diverse communities in Haiti who, participated in semi-structured interviews (n=38) and in six focus groups (n=63) between 2010-2011. Haitian resilience accords with some definitions from the literature. It also comprises independent, discrete, and isolated contextual resignation and intentional choice to survive and function-when there is no alternative course of action. Understanding Haitian resilience, can inform health/mental health and policy interventions, if these are taken as cultural resources. Intervention efforts should incorporate survivors' input as key informants on what constitute resilience and reconstruction goals for them.

MeSH terms

  • Earthquakes*
  • Focus Groups
  • Haiti
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Survivors*