Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 May 2020
Psychological resilience – positive psychological adaptation in the context of adversity – is defined and measured in multiple ways across disciplines. However, little is known about whether definitions capture the same underlying construct and/or share similar correlates. This study examined the congruence of different resilience measures and associations with sociodemographic factors and body mass index (BMI), a key health indicator.
In a cross-sectional sample of 1429 African American adults exposed to child maltreatment, we derived four resilience measures: a self-report scale assessing resiliency (perceived trait resilience); a binary variable defining resilience as low depression and posttraumatic stress (absence of distress); a binary variable defining resilience as low distress and high positive affect (absence of distress plus positive functioning); and a continuous variable reflecting individuals' deviation from distress levels predicted by maltreatment severity (relative resilience). Associations between resilience measures, sociodemographic factors, and BMI were assessed using correlations and regressions.
Resilience measures were weakly-to-moderately correlated (0.27–0.69), though similarly patterned across sociodemographic factors. Women showed higher relative resilience, but lower perceived trait resilience than men. Only measures incorporating positive affect or resiliency perceptions were associated with BMI: individuals classified as resilient by absence of distress plus positive functioning had lower BMI than non-resilient (β = −2.10, p = 0.026), as did those with higher perceived trait resilience (β = −0.63, p = 0.046).
Relatively low congruence between resilience measures suggests studies will yield divergent findings about predictors, prevalence, and consequences of resilience. Efforts to clearly define resilience are needed to better understand resilience and inform intervention and prevention efforts.