Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Family Resilience Following a Physical Trauma and Efficient Support Interventions: A Critical Literature Review

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Family Resilience Following a Physical Trauma and Efficient Support Interventions: A Critical Literature Review

Article excerpt

The concept of resilience was first associated with physics and engineering, but it has since held the interest of thinkers and researchers from many other fields, including ecology, economics, computer science, and social science. The definition has also been expanded to now include family and community. Thus, the concept of resilience has been modified according to the various contexts or fields of interest with which it is associated.

From an etymological perspective, the term resilience is comprised of the prefix re, meaning "again, back" and salire, meaning "jump" (Anaut, 2008; Poilpot, 2003). In physics, resilience refers to the capacity of a material to resist a shock (Murry, 2004), whereas in ecology, it refers to a species' or an ecosystem's capacity to return to normal functioning or development following a trauma (Holling, 1973). In economics, resilience is the capacity for an economy to get back on track following a crash or crisis (Richemond, 2003), and in computer science, it is the quality of a system that ensures it continues to function properly in spite of defects of one or several components (Collin, 2013). In psychology, individual resilience refers to the ability to succeed, live, and continue to grow despite adversity (Cyrulnik, 2002, 2003, 2006; Tisseron, 2007). Researchers in nursing, for their part, generally retain the same definition of resilience as those in psychology; specifically that individual resilience is the ability to successfully navigate changes and difficulties (Mandleco & Peery, 2000; Wagnild & Young, 1993).


Several definitions of family resilience have been developed in the past few years, most of which seem to be inspired by individual resilience, but when studied in a family context the concept becomes more complex. For some authors, family resilience refers to the success of family members in overcoming difficulties in the wake of a trauma (Black & Lobo, 2008), or represents the strength a family taps into to change its dynamic in order to solve the problems encountered (Delage, 2004, 2008; Lee et al., 2004; McCubbin & McCubbin, 1988, Walsh, 2006). According to Michael Ungar (2010), family resilience necessarily includes interactions with the environment in which the family evolves. In other words, it is important to consider the family's environment when talking about resilience. Moreover, again according to Ungar (2010), family resilience is influenced by what transpired before, during, and after the trauma, hence the reference to a process.

Recently, Genest (2012) studied the process of resilience, which she defined as complex and multidimensional, in order to develop a theoretical model of resilience in families grieving the loss of an adolescent who committed suicide. Genest defines family resilience as a process during which a family confronted with a traumatic situation, despite the psychological and physical suffering endured, overcame it. Without a doubt, the most important contribution of her research is its pragmatic aspect, which proposes intervention methods for health care professionals according to the different types of resilience observed in the families interviewed during this process.

For his part, Gauvin-Lepage (2013) conducted an empirical study with the aim of co-constructing the elements of an intervention program that would support the resilience process of families of adolescents with a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury, involving both families and rehabilitation professionals. The research process allowed the author to define family resilience as: "(...) a complex human process that is deployed when a family is confronted with a trauma. Thus, the family will undertake a fluctuating process of transformation, according to the meaning it ascribes to the situation. The interrelation of elements inherent to the family and its environment will influence this process, positively or negatively, to achieve a positive reconstruction of the life project. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.