Short-Term and Long-Term Resilience Among At-Risk Adolescents: The Role of Family and Community Settings

Hena Thakur, Joseph R. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Given the severe consequences associated with maltreatment, establishing an understanding of pathways to resilience among trauma-exposed youth is a critical public health aim. Longitudinal research has either examined short-term or long-term responses to traumatic events, which prevents testing for a) individual differences between resilience subtypes and b) consistency of short-term, resilient responses over time. Additionally, post-traumatic stress and depression represent the two most common symptom patterns in youth exposed to maltreatment, however few studies have simultaneously investigated resilience to these outcomes. In response, the current study employs a dimensional analytic approach to distinguish between short-term (the ability to demonstrate adaptive responses to ongoing adversities) and long-term (lack of distress over several years in response to a prior adversity) resilience. Consistent with an ecological perspective, the study examines whether family- and community-level protective factors are similarly or uniquely associated with different resilience subtypes. Method: Participants included 943 individuals (469 male, 474 female) from a nationally-representative, at-risk sample of adolescents who completed self-report measures of maltreatment exposure, depressive symptoms and post-traumatic stress symptoms at ages 12, 16, and 18. During the age 12 visit, participants’ caregivers completed self-report measures of family routines and neighborhood social cohesion. Results: Overall, we found that family routines uniquely buffered against trauma-related distress across resilience conceptualizations, while social cohesion played a role in short-term resilience to depressive symptoms (p <.05). Participant gender did not moderate these results (p >.05). Conclusion: These findings highlight the importance of understanding resilience dimensionally for adolescents exposed to maltreatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)637-650
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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