Abstract: Developmental Differences in Definition, Assessment, and Features of Resilience: A Scoping Review of the Literature (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

308P Developmental Differences in Definition, Assessment, and Features of Resilience: A Scoping Review of the Literature

Friday, January 17, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Susan Yoon, PhD, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Rebecca Dillard, MSW, Doctoral Candidate, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Karla Shockley McCarthy, MSW, LSW, Doctoral Student and Graduate Research Associate, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Fei Pei, MSW, Doctoral Student Research Assistant, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Background:  Resilience following childhood maltreatment has received substantial empirical attention, with the number of studies on this construct growing exponentially in the past decade. While there is ample interest, inconsistencies remain around how to conceptualize and assess resilience. Further, there is a lack of consensus on how developmental stage influences resilience and how protective features affect its expression. The current scoping literature review synthesizes the findings on resilience following child maltreatment, through a developmental lens. Specifically, this review study consolidates the body of empirical literature in a developmentally-oriented review, with the intention of inclusively assessing three key areas—the conceptualization of resilience, assessment of resilience, and protective features associated with resilience in maltreatment research.

Methods: We conducted comprehensive literature searches using electronic searching databases, including Medline, SocINDEX, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and Academic Search Complete to identify studies on child maltreatment and resilience. We also examined the reference lists from previous articles to identify any additional eligible studies. Key search terms used for the searches included child maltreatment, child abuse, neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, protective factors, promotive factors, and resilience/ resiliency/ resilient. Inclusion criteria were studies that 1) explicitly examined child maltreatment and resilience; 2) were quantitative empirical studies; 3) were published since 2010; 4) were peer-reviewed publications; and 5) were published in English. A total of 67 peer-reviewed, quantitative empirical articles were included in this review. Of the 67 articles, three articles focused on early childhood (birth to age 5), seven focused on school age (ages 6–12), 24 focused on adolescence (ages 13–19), and 33 focused on adulthood (age 20 and older).

Results: Studies typically conceptualized resilience following maltreatment in one of three ways: 1) as a personality trait, 2) as outcomes related to adaptive functioning, or 3) as socioecological resources. Studies conducted on early childhood and school-aged participants consistently conceptualized resilience as outcomes or processes related to adaptive functioning whereas studies focused on adulthood most frequently conceptualized resilience as a personal trait. Three common approaches were found regarding ways in which the construct of resilience was assessed: 1) lack of psychopathology or negative outcomes, 2) multi-domain composite scores, and 3) resilience-specific measures or scales. It was noted that individual’s developmental stage actively influenced researcher’s decisions regarding how resilience was assessed. Furthermore, the findings also indicated developmental variations in features of resilience, with different individual, relational, and community protective features emerging based on age and life stage.

Conclusions/Implications: Results suggest that some inconsistencies in the literature may be addressed by utilizing a developmental lens and considering the individual’s life stage when selecting a definition of resilience and associated measurement tool. For instance, this review suggests that some protective features may be inherently more beneficial at certain developmental stages than at others. As efforts to understand resilience increase, more effective strategies to assess and promote resilience may be generated. Still, the results of this review indicate that it is critical to incorporate a developmental perspective into the creation and implementation of any resilience-focused interventions.