Resilience and Function in Adults With Physical Disabilities: An Observational Study

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2017 Jun;98(6):1158-1164. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2016.11.012. Epub 2016 Dec 18.


Objectives: To determine if resilience is uniquely associated with functional outcomes (satisfaction with social roles, physical functioning, and quality of life) in individuals with physical disabilities, after controlling for measures of psychological health (depression and anxiety) and symptom severity (pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance); and to examine the potential moderating effect of sex, age, and diagnosis on the hypothesized associations between resilience and function.

Design: Cross-sectional survey study.

Setting: Surveys were mailed (81% response rate) to a community sample of 1949 individuals with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, postpoliomyelitis syndrome, or spinal cord injury. Participants were recruited through the Internet or print advertisement (28%), a registry of previous research participants who indicated interest in future studies (21%), a departmental registry of individuals interested in research (19%), disability-specific registries (18%), word of mouth (10%), or other sources (3%).

Participants: Convenience sample of community-dwelling adults aging with physical disabilities (N=1574), with a mean Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (10 items) score of 29.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System measures of Satisfaction with Social Roles and Activities and Physical Functioning, the World Health Organization's brief Older People's Quality of Life Questionnaire, and the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (10 items).

Results: After controlling for age, age squared, sex, diagnosis, psychological health, and symptom severity, resilience was significantly and positively associated with satisfaction with social roles (β=.17, P<.001) and quality of life (β=.39, P<.001), but not physical function (β=.04, P>.05). For every 1-point increase in scores of resilience, there was an increase of .50 in the quality of life score and .20 in the satisfaction with social roles score. Sex also moderated the association between resilience and satisfaction with social roles (F1,1453=4.09, P=.043).

Conclusions: The findings extend past research, providing further evidence indicating that resilience plays a unique role in nonphysical functional outcomes among individuals with physical disabilities.

Keywords: Aging; Quality of life; Rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / psychology
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / psychology
  • Muscular Dystrophies / psychology
  • Postpoliomyelitis Syndrome / psychology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Participation / psychology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology