Academic journal article Violence and Victims

The Development of the Scale of Protective Factors: Resilience in a Violent Trauma Sample

Academic journal article Violence and Victims

The Development of the Scale of Protective Factors: Resilience in a Violent Trauma Sample

Article excerpt

This research developed the Scale of Protective Factors (SPF-24) to measure protective factors contributing to resilience. We investigated the factor structure of 35 items. After exploratory factor analysis, we subjected 25 items representing 2 social-interpersonal and 2 cognitive-individual factors to confirmatory factor analysis. The sample consisted of 942 college students from 3 studies and 2 institutions. To examine the diagnostic function of the SPF, we used clinical criteria to identify a subsample of participants who had experienced violent trauma and scored low, moderate, or high on an established resilience scale. Results showed that the low-resilient group scored significantly lower on all subscales of the SPF with marked differences in prioritizing/planning behavior. Implications for the research and clinical settings are discussed.

Keywords: resilience; protective factors; confirmatory factor analysis; violence; trauma

Research regarding the life span science of resilience has steadily increased since the initial development of the construct in the 1970s (Reich, Zautra, & Hall, 2010). Researchers have attributed the rise in research focusing on the construct of resilience to a shift in focus from deficit models of mental health toward more strength-based practices (Masten, 2009). Because findings show that resilience positively affects mental health and well-being, as well as physical health, throughout the life span, research on resilience has resulted in changes in policy and mental health practices (Van IJzendoorn et al., 2011; Walsh, Dawson, & Mattingly, 2010; Windle, 2011). However, prevention, intervention, and treatment techniques are only as strong as the measures used to assess the construct of interest (Ahern, Kiehl, Sole, & Byers, 2006). A measure of resilience that enables researchers and clinicians to identify strengths and deficits in specific protective factors determining resilience would serve to improve prevention, intervention, and treatment techniques. The purpose of this study was to develop a multidimensional scale of protective factors believed to determine resilience. In addition, this study tests the diagnostic functions of the developed measure on a sample of individuals having experienced violent trauma.

Researchers have conducted numerous studies investigating why some individuals are more resilient than others (Ahern et al., 2006; Beckwith, Dickinson, & Kendall, 2008; Connor & Davidson, 2003; Dyer & McGuinness, 1996; Fergus & Zimmerman, 2005; Friborg, Hjemdal, Martinussen, & Rosenvinge, 2009; Masten, 2009, 2011; Reich et al., 2010; Windle, 2011). Prior research suggests that resilience occurs when protective factors counteract adverse events and result in normative or positive outcomes (Connor & Davidson, 2003; Masten, 2009). Protective factors that predict resilience include family and peer support, social skills, internal locus of control, education, problem-solving skills, coping strategies, intelligence, as well as others (Ahern et al., 2006; Beckwith et al., 2008; Connor & Davidson, 2003; Dyer & McGuinness, 1996; Friborg et al., 2009; Windle, 2011). Connor and Davidson (2003) defined resilience as successful adaptation in the presence of adverse events such as chronic-acute stress, risk, and trauma. Resilience has also been defined as "the capacity of a dynamic system to withstand or recover from significant challenges that threaten its stability, viability, or development" (Masten, 2011, p. 494). In addition, researchers have defined resilience as a positive outcome, meaning the individual would not only resist risk but would have mental health reflecting a positive self-concept, self-esteem, and life satisfaction (Friborg et al., 2009). Because of the complex nature of resilience, reaching consensus regarding an operational definition, as well as parsimonious measurement, has been a challenge that many researchers have faced (Luthar, Cicchetti, Becker, 2000; Masten, 2007; Windle, 2011). …

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