Psychological Resilience and Depressive Symptoms in Older Adults Diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome


  • Diana Pierini BSN RN,

    Doctoral Student, Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Diana Pierini, BSN RN, is a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin, School of Nursing, Austin, TX.

  • Alexa K. Stuifbergen PhD RN FAAN

    Professor and Associate DeanSearch for more papers by this author
    • Alexa K. Stuifbergen, PhD RN FAAN, is professor and associate dean of Research at the University of Texas at Austin, School of Nursing, Austin, TX.


Depression is a serious comorbidity in people with disabilities; however, few studies have focused on depressive symptoms in older adults with post-polio syndrome (PPS). This study used a resilience conceptual framework that focused on patient psychosocial strengths to investigate the relationship between psychological resilience factors (e.g., acceptance, self-efficacy, personal resources, interpersonal relationships, self-rated health, spiritual growth, stress management) and depressive symptoms in a large sample (N = 630) of people older than 65 years who were diagnosed with PPS. Forty percent of the sample scored ≥ 10 on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Short Depression Scale (CES-D10), which is a higher percentage than what has been previously cited in other studies; however, 53% of the sample had good or excellent self-rated health, suggesting psychological resilience. Depression scores were regressed on seven selected resilience factors after controlling for functional limitations. Four of the seven variables accounted for 30% of the variance in depressive symptoms, with spiritual growth representing the main predictor (β = −.26). The implications for rehabilitation nurses in developing a patient-strengths perspective in the assessment and counseling of older adults with PPS are discussed.