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Family and Consumer Sciences

College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources

LIFE - Children, Youth and Families at risk

Research Review

Adverse life events and resilience

Tiet, Q.Q., Bird, H.R., Davies, M., Hoven, C., Cohen, P., Jensen, P.S., & Goodman, S. (1998). Adverse life events and resilience. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 37(11), 1191-1201.

PURPOSE: Examined multiple factors in the subjects, their family, and their social environment to identify the unique contributions which adverse life events and each of the predictors make to youth adjustment.


  • Dohrenwend & Dohrenwend (1978); Lazarus & Folkman (1984); Seyle (1956); Coddington (1972); Goodyer (1990); Friedrich et al. (1982); Gowers et al. (1996); Russell et al. (1990); Biafora et al. (1994); Duncan (1977); de Wilde et al. (1992); found evidence for a link between adverse life events and psychiatric disorders in adults and children.
  • Garmezy (1985) found that certain individuals maintain competence despite adverse life events.
  • Resilience studies have identified these protective factors: higher IQ (Garmzy et al., 1984; Masten et al., 1988), quality of parenting (Masten et al., 1988), other adults (Garmezy et al., 1984), internal locust of control and social skills (Luthar, 1991).


  • Data was obtained from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Methods for the Epidemiology of child and Adolescent Mental Disorders (MECA) Study.
  • Data sample: 7,500 households, age 9-17, 47% female, 51% non-Hispanic white, 28% Latino, 15% African-American, and 6% other.
  • Measures: Youth adjustment (measured by NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children Version 2.3), adverse life events (self-report), and predictors (measured by self-report and care-takers report): gender, maternal psychopathology, family structure, and parental marital relationship.
  • Procedure: Univariate analyses were used to examine relationships between adjustment and adverse life events. Multivariate logistic regressions were used to test unique contributions of adverse life events and to identify the main effects of the predictors. Multivariate logistic regressions were conducted on the high-risk and low-risk groups.


  • Found large relationships between adverse life events and maladjustment.
  • Univariate analyses found that good adjustment in youth was related to lower levels of adverse life events, absence of maternal psychopathology, living with two biological parents, good parental marital relationship, higher socioeconomic status, closer parental monitoring, higher family functioning, better physical heath, and higher educational aspirations.
  • Higher educational aspiration was associated with good adjustment in youth at both high and low risk.
  • Resilient youth tended to live in higher functioning families and received more guidance and supervision.
  • Found that child IQ was a protective factor.
  • Poor parental monitoring was a predictor of youth delinquency and antisocial behavior.

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