Resilience in the Context of Chronic Stress and Health in Adults



Over the past several decades, stress research has experienced a broadening of its pathologic focus to encompass the concept of resilience. There is a wealth of research on resilience but no general consensus regarding its conceptualization. Some define resilience as attaining eventual favorable outcomes following exposure to adversity. Others define it as specific relatively short-term responses characterized by a return to homeostasis after initial disruption due to a stressor, and still others refer to resilience as resources that enable the individual to withstand or recover from major stressors. Many of the existing conceptualizations of resilience are not applicable in the context of chronic stress which is particularly harmful to health. How do adults who experience chronic stress survive, manage, and thrive, and what resources enable them to do so? In this paper, we consider these questions by reviewing traditions of research and definitions of resilience in order to inform an understanding of resilience in general, and for the study of chronic stress in adults. Based on a review of the literature, we developed a taxonomy of resilience resources that can be applied broadly, and guide future research.