Saturday, 15 January 2005 - 12:00 PM
This presentation is part of: Poster Session II
Identifying Family ResilienceJames P. Coyle, MSW, University at Buffalo, Tom Nochajski, PHD, University at Buffalo, Eugene Maguin, PHD, University at Buffalo, Andrew Safyer, PHD, University at Buffalo, David DeWit, PHD, Center for Addiction and Mental Health, Scott Macdonald, PHD, Center for Addiction and Mental Health, and Karol Kumpfer, PHD, University of Utah.
Purpose: Multi-stressed families often exhibit family dysfunction, but some families are able to maintain above average functioning despite experiencing increased stress. These families have been referred to as resilient, but a measurable definition of family resilience remains elusive. This study investigated family resilience defined as maintaining or returning to above average family functioning following significant stresses.
Method: Data were gathered from a NIAAA funded (RO1 AA1164701A1) bi-national (United States and Canada) family-based prevention program. Families with at least one child between the ages of 9 and 12 and with one parent with an alcohol problem were recruited into the study.
Results: 260 parents who completed four interviews over a 16-month period were examined for patterns of significant discrete life events, including relocating, marriage, death, serious illness, or victimization. 105 families exhibited no specific pattern of life events, while 108 families had one or less of these events at each time period. 47 families were identified that experienced one or less life events at one time period followed by two or more events at the next time period and a return to less than two events at a third time period. The Family Assessment Measure (FAM III) was used to identify which of the 47 families with the low/high/low events pattern had above and below average family functioning at each time period. Sixteen families had above average functioning before and after a period of multiple stressors and were labeled as resilient. Eighteen families had below average functioning following multiple stressors that continued even after the number of stressors reduced, and they were labeled as non-resilient. One family had poor functioning before increased stressors and better functioning after, which fit neither category, and 12 families were impossible to categorize due to missing FAM III data.
A series of repeated measures ANOVA showed significant group differences between resilient and non-resilient families (N = 31 to 34) on each FAM III subscale (tasks, roles, communication, affective involvement, affective expression, control, and values, p < .001) with resilient families having better functioning (Eta Square = .43 to .61). A comparison of the resilient families with families who experienced one or less stressors at all four time periods (N = 101 to 112) showed significantly better family functioning by the resilient families (p < .05) in five of seven subscales (Eta Square = .04 to .09). No significant time by group interaction was found in any of these analyses.
Implications: The results support a method for measuring family resilience. Although resilient families were not different from other families in changing functioning over time, they were distinguishable from non-resilient families and non-stressed families. Developing ways of measuring family resilience is important for developing and evaluating family-focused prevention programs.
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