Resilience following child maltreatment: A review of protective factors

  • Afifi T
  • MacMillan H
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Abstract

Child maltreatment is linked with numerous adverse outcomes that can continue throughout the lifespan. However, variability of impairment has been noted following child maltreatment, making it seem that some people are more resilient. Our review includes a brief discussion of how resilience is measured in child maltreatment research; a summary of the evidence for protective factors associated with resilience based on those studies of highest quality; a discussion of how knowledge of protective factors can be applied to promote resilience among people exposed to child maltreatment; and finally, directions for future research. Method: The databases MEDLINE and PsycINFO were searched for relevant citations up to July 2010 to identify key studies and evidence syntheses. Results: Although comparability across studies is limited, family-level factors of stable family environment and supportive relationships appear to be consistently linked with resilience across studies. There was also evidence for some individual-level factors, such as personality traits, although proxies of intellect were not as strongly related to resilience following child maltreatment. Conclusions: Findings from resilience research needs to be applied to determine effective strategies and specific interventions to promote resilience and foster well-being among maltreated children.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Child maltreatment
  • Protective factors
  • Resilience

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Authors

  • Tracie O. Afifi

  • Harriet L. MacMillan

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