adolescent, resilience, adolescent resilience, college students


The construct of resilience has gained considerable attention over the last four decades since researchers observed that children and youth could cope and adapt in spite of adversity. Resilience involves a dynamic process involving an interaction between both risk and protective processes, internal and external to the individual, that can modify the effects of an adverse life event. Adolescence is considered to be a period of vulnerability for most individuals as they often partake in high risk behaviors. Further, those individuals who are in their early college years are faced with the developmental challenges of this life phase which can be complicated by a variety of stresses. Investigating resilience in college students is of great importance as these adolescents may incur additional stress as they make the transition to adulthood. Empirical evidence indicates that resilience is dynamic, developmental in nature, and interactive with one's environment. A variety of variables have been studied to clarify the concept of resilience in adolescents, yet there continues to be inconsistent findings. Although there is an abundance of literature regarding adolescent resilience, little is known about this process in the healthy well-adjusted adolescent college student. Additionally there are inconsistencies in reported findings about whether resilience is a healthy state. There is also evidence in the literature that contradictions exist regarding the effect of social support on this process. After review of the psychometric properties of existing instruments, the Resilience Scale was determined to have the best reliability and validity use for the study of resilience in the adolescent population. An exploratory model testing design was used to explore the relationships among a set of variables, including personal characteristics, levels of stress, high risk behaviors, and levels of resilience in adolescents ages 18 to 20 years. Institutional Review Board approval was obtained prior to data collection. The study participants attended a community college and met the sample selection criteria. A convenience sampling plan was used. Recruitment of participants followed the college protocol for contacting professors teaching general education classes during the planned data collection time. The study measures included a demographic questionnaire, two perceived stress visual analog scales, the Health Behaviors Questionnaire, and the Resilience Scale. Descriptive statistics were computed for all variables for the total sample (n=166) and recoding performed as needed by the instruments. Model testing was performed using correlations, hierarchical multiple regression, and path analysis to identify the strongest predictive variables. The strongest predictive model was personal characteristics and Health Behaviors Questionnaire Emotional Risk to the visual analog scale Stress in General (R2 = .519, F = 3.13, p = .000). This model was used for path analysis and the significant variables were ethnicity (standardized beta coefficients of .165, p = .036) and Health Behaviors Questionnaire Emotional Risk (standardized beta coefficients of .567, p = .000). These findings are important for health care providers to use as a basis for driving interventions to optimize resilience and reduce stress in adolescents. Further research should focus on ways to enhance coping and adaptation in an effort to reduce emotional risks which potentially increase stress in similar populations. Research regarding resilience and stress can further be expanded to the study of additional populations at risk, including adults and others such as nursing students, war veterans, and disaster victims.


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Graduation Date





Byers, Jacqueline


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Health and Public Affairs



Degree Program









Release Date

April 2008

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Included in

Nursing Commons