Towards conceptual convergence: A systematic review of psychological resilience in family caregivers of persons living with chronic neurological conditions

Health Expect. 2022 Feb;25(1):4-37. doi: 10.1111/hex.13374. Epub 2021 Oct 22.


Background: The demand for family caregiving in persons with chronic neurological conditions (CNCs) is increasing. Psychological resilience may empower and protect caregivers in their role. Thus, a synthesis of resilience evidence within this specific population is warranted.

Aim: In this systematic review we aimed to: (1) examine the origins and conceptualizations of resilience; (2) summarize current resilience measurement tools; and (3) synthesize correlates, predictors and outcomes of resilience in family caregivers of persons with CNCs.

Design: We sourced English articles published up to July 2020 across five databases using search terms involving CNCs, family caregivers and resilience.

Results: A total of 50 studies were retained. Nearly half (44%) of the studies used trait-based resilience definitions, while about one third (36%) used process-based definitions. Twelve different resilience scales were used, revealing mostly moderate to high-resilience levels. Findings confirmed that resilience is related to multiple indicators of healthy functioning (e.g., quality of life, social support, positive coping), as it buffers against negative outcomes of burden and distress. Discordance relating to the interaction between resilience and demographic, sociocultural and environmental factors was apparent.

Conclusions: Incongruity remains with respect to how resilience is defined and assessed, despite consistent definitional concepts of healthy adaptation and equilibrium. The array of implications of resilience for well-being confirms the potential for resilience to be leveraged within caregiver health promotion initiatives via policy and practice.

Patient or public contribution: The findings may inform future recommendations for researchers and practitioners to develop high-quality resilience-building interventions and programmes to better mobilize and support this vulnerable group.

Keywords: chronic neurological conditions; dementia; family caregivers; resilience; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Caregivers* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Social Support