Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Development of a Theoretically Derived Model of Resilience through Concept Analysis

Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Development of a Theoretically Derived Model of Resilience through Concept Analysis

Article excerpt


The concept of resilience has been of interest to various professional groups for many years; however, it is only recently that the nursing profession has begun to recognise its potential contribution in diverse clinical contexts. The concept resilience has emerged out of research conducted principally in children and refers to a dynamic process of positive adaptation in the context of significant adversity (Margalit 2004). This paper presents a concept analysis using the approach described by Walker and Avant ( 1995) in order to gain new insights about the phenomenon and proposes a new theoretical model of resilience derived from a synthesis of the literature. A better conceptual understanding of resilience may lead to recognition of its utility in explaining why some individuals are able to overcome adversity while others are not, and therefore inform strategies that may build resilience.


The concept of resilience - the capacity to transcend adversity and transform it into an opportunity for growth - offers a valuable framework for working with diverse individuals and challenging situations. However, much debate exists in the literature concerning the underlying process behind its manifestation. Inconsistencies associated with the definition, operationalisation and measurement of the concept suggests that further theoretical delineation is needed. Moreover, since concepts are not a static entities, and constantly evolve and change over time; there is a need to determine the current state of the science so that future research may be strategically planned and designed (Walker & Avant 1995). Advancing a concept provides a useful strategy for integrating the various existing strands of knowledge which can extend theory development; and lead to the discovery of new dimensions of familiar or over-used concepts (Walker & Avant 1995). Identification and recognition of the inherent strengths that characterise resilience will assist researchers to develop measures which may be aimed at formulating interventions necessary to build it.

It is important to note that in the midnineties, Dyer and McGuiness (1996) undertook a concept analysis of resilience. However, while this endeavour was seminal, several limitations make it less applicable today. First, this publication is a decade old and thus the conceptualisation, measurement and utility of resilience is likely to have changed over time. Second, the two antecedents (adversity and the availability of a caring person at some point in the individuals' life) and three consequences (toughening effect, sense of overcoming the situation and effective coping) identified were not well substantiated in subsequent empirical work. Finally, the three critical attributes identified (a sense of self, determination and a prosocial attitude) are not readily operationalised for measurement in research or clinical practice. Thus, a re-examination one decade later may lead to a more cogent understanding of resilience.


This paper presents a concept analysis of resilience for two purposes:

1. To identify current theoretical and operational definitions of the concept resilience; and

2. To identify the constructs that are defining attributes of resilience.


The approach used to guide this concept analysis was based on Walker and Avant 's (1995) logical and systematic approach to gain an understanding of the literature, otherwise termed as the data for the analysis. In the first stage of inquiry, a meta-analytic technique was used and involved several steps. First, immersion in the area of interest facilitated through a literature search. 'Resilience' was used as the keyword or subject heading in several computerised data bases including CINAHL, Medline, PsychArticles, PsychInfo, and Proquest Psychology and Nursing. The search, conducted during the period between 2004 and 2006, included literature from the 1970s through to the present; the largest body ofliterature surfaced in the 1980's through to the 1990s. …

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