Is higher resilience predictive of lower stress and better mental health among corporate executives?

PLoS One. 2019 Jun 11;14(6):e0218092. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218092. eCollection 2019.


Objective: To assess the impact of resilience, the ability to withstand and bounce back from adversity, on measures of well-being, self-reported stress, and mental health diagnoses.

Methods: This study was a cross-sectional survey of participants seen at an executive health practice at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, from January 2012 through September 2016. Participants completed an anonymous survey that included demographic information and 3 validated survey instruments-the 10-item Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC), the 12-item Linear Analogue Self-Assessment Scale (LASA), and the 14-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Self-reported history of mental health diagnoses was also collected. CD-RISC scores were used to stratify participants into lower (<30), medium (30-34), or higher (≥35) resilience categories. Participants' LASA scores, PSS scores, and self-reported mental health diagnoses were compared among resilience categories.

Results: Of the 2,027 eligible participants, 1,954 met the study inclusion criteria as currently employed corporate-sponsored executive or business professionals (self-designated) who completed the CD-RISC survey. Most participants (62.5%) were aged 40 to 59 years. The majority were male (78.3%), white (95.3%), educated (86.2%), and in a committed relationship (89.7%). Among participants, 41.7% reported higher resilience, 34.3% had medium resilience, and 24.0% had lower resilience. The quality of life and overall LASA scores were positively associated with higher resilience (P < .001). PSS scores and self-reported mental health diagnoses were negatively associated with higher resilience (P < .001). These associations remained significant after adjusting for patient characteristics.

Conclusions: In this cross-sectional survey of a large cohort of corporative executives, the lower-resilience cohort had a 4-fold higher prevalence of depression and an almost 3-fold higher prevalence of anxiety compared with the higher-resilience cohort. High resilience was positively associated with well-being and negatively associated with perceived stress. Our findings suggest that higher resilience in the executive workplace environment is associated with better mental health, reduced stress, and greater well-being.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*