Academic journal article Journal of Nursing Measurement

A Review of the Resilience Scale

Academic journal article Journal of Nursing Measurement

A Review of the Resilience Scale

Article excerpt

The purpose of this article is to review 12 completed studies that have used the Resilience Scale (Wagnild &Young, 1993). Completed studies were identified through PubMed and CINAHL. Studies that identified Resilience Scale scores, sample descriptions, and tested relationships between the Resilience Scale and study variables were selected for inclusion. Cronbach's alpha coefficients ranged from .72 to .94 supporting the internal consistency reliability of the Resilience Scale. Hypothesized relationships between the Resilience Scale and study variables (e.g., forgiveness, stress, anxiety, health promoting activities) were supported strengthening the evidence for construct validity of the Resilience Scale. In the studies reported here, the Resilience Scale has been used with a variety of individuals of different ages, socioeconomic, and educational backgrounds. The Resilience Scale has performed as a reliable and valid tool to measure resilience and has been used with a wide range of study populations.

Keywords: resilience; resilience scale; review; measurement

The study of resilience was relatively new with most research focusing on children (Garmezy, 1993; Rutter, 1987, 1993; Werner, 1984) 15 to 20 years ago. Since then, knowledge and understanding of resilience has expanded to other populations of interest. In a brief review of studies cited in PubMed, psychological resilience was referred to 11 times from 1977 to 1987. In the second and third decades since, it was referred to 92 and 508 times respectively. From January through April 2007 alone, resilience has been referred to in 50 studies. Clearly, interest in resilience is growing.

Traditionally, health care interventions have used a model grounded in pathology, which emphasizes deficits and fixing problems. Focusing on concepts such as resilience redirects health care to recognize strengths and develop strategies to build on existing capabilities. Resilience connotes inner strength, competence, optimism, flexibility, and the ability to cope effectively when faced with adversity. Resilience is associated with numerous desired outcomes including physical health (Black & Ford-Gilboe, 2004; Humphreys, 2003; Monteith & Ford-Gilboe, 2002; Wagnild, 2007) and emotional health (Broyles, 2005; Humphreys, 2003; March, 2004; Nygren et al., 2005; Rew, Taylor-Seehafer, Thomas, & Yockey, 2001).

Researchers have measured resilience in a variety of ways. Most have selected multiple indicators and instruments to measure resilience including self-esteem, morale, life satisfaction, sense of coherence, and so forth. Others have used instruments designed specifically to measure resilience of which there are now several.

The purpose of this article was to review completed studies that have used the Resilience Scale (Wagnild & Young, 1993) in a variety of settings and with diverse samples. The Resilience Scale is the earliest published instrument designed to measure resilience and is one of many options now available to quantify the multidimensional aspects of this concept.


The Resilience Scale was published in 1993 (Wagnild & Young, 1993). The scale was based on (a) a 1987 qualitative study of older women who had adapted successfully following a major life event, and (b) a thorough review of the literature on resilience up to that time (Wagnild & Young, 1990). The initial Resilience Scale consisted of 50 items, each was a verbatim statement from the initial study of 24 older women. After initial analysis, the scale was reduced to 25 items reflecting five characteristics of resilience and was initially available and pretested in 1988 (Wagnild & Young, 1990). Scores range from 25-175. After repeated applications of the Resilience Scale with a variety of samples, scores greater than 145 indicated moderately high to high resilience, 125-145 indicated moderately low to moderate levels of resilience, and scores of 120 and below indicated low resilience. …

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