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Childhood trauma and resilience in old age: applying a context model of resilience to a sample of former indentured child laborers

Maercker, Andreas, Hilpert, Peter and Burri, Andrea (2015) Childhood trauma and resilience in old age: applying a context model of resilience to a sample of former indentured child laborers Aging & Mental Health, 20 (6). pp. 616-626.

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Psychological resilience has been rarely investigated in elderly populations. We applied a more comprehensive model of trauma-specific coping and resilience, which included Ungar’s context model and included decentral factors of resilience (i.e., environments that provide resources to build resilience).


We assessed resilience in a cohort of former Swiss indentured child laborers (N D 74; 59% males) at two time points; first at the mean age of 80 years and then again 20 months later. At each time point, the following measures of resilience were assessed: resilience indicators of life satisfaction and lack of depression. In addition, resilience predictors of trauma exposure, perceived social support, dysfunctional disclosure of traumatic experiences, social acknowledgment as a victim, and selfefficacy; and decentral resilience factors of education, income, number of children, and physical health were measured.


Using path-analysis, we found that life satisfaction and lack of depression were predicted by dysfunctional disclosure, social support, and self-efficacy at various significance levels. Change scores of resilience were predicted by higher trauma exposure, social acknowledgment as a victim, and an interaction between the two. The model for decentral factors also fitted, with physical health and income predicting the resilience indicators.


Applying this comprehensive resilience model in a sample of older adults revealed meaningful findings in predicting resilience at a single time point and over time. Atypical coping strategies, such as perceived social acknowledgment as a victim and disclosure, may be particularly important for former victims who have suffered institutional abuse.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Maercker, Andreas
Burri, Andrea
Date : 27 April 2015
DOI : 10.1080/13607863.2015.1033677
Uncontrolled Keywords : resilience; stress; trauma; positive psychology; abuse/neglect
Depositing User : Melanie Hughes
Date Deposited : 05 Sep 2018 16:13
Last Modified : 05 Sep 2018 16:13

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