Background: According to current research concepts resilience can be defined as adaptation to past and ongoing exposure. Accordingly, adaptation to exposure is a dynamic process, which can be different in different population groups. Prospective longitudinal studies provide unique opportunities to investigate resilience processes.
Objectives: The aim of this article is to define the concept of resilience, describe examples of longitudinal studies investigating resilience in children, adults and older individuals, exemplary describe four ongoing longitudinal resilience studies in which the authors of the article are participating and identify and analyze methodological challenges in empirical resilience research.
Material and methods: This study was based on a qualitative literature review of published prospective studies investigating resilience listed in PubMed and study protocols of the four longitudinal studies.
Results: The exemplarily described studies have shown that resilience processes are changeable in all age groups and subject to a variety of influencing factors. The specific and potentially age-associated types of alterations have so far been difficult to determine and need further clarification.
Discussion: In view of the dynamic course of resilience, prospective longitudinal studies are urgently needed. Prospective longitudinal studies have the potential to identify resilience mechanisms and predictors of the course of resilience in different population groups, such as children, adolescents, adults and older individuals. Furthermore, resilience research needs to develop an improved and precise assessment of exposure to stressors.
Keywords: Age groups; Dynamics; Life course; Resilience definition; Stress exposure assessment.