Resilience in parentally bereaved children and adolescents seeking preventive services

Kirk K. Lin, Irwin Sandler, Tim S. Ayers, Sharlene Wolchik, Linda Luecken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


This study examined environmental stress, family, and child variables that differentiate resilient children and adolescents from those with mental health problems following the death of a primary caregiver. The community-based sample included 179 bereaved children ages 8 to 16 years and their surviving caregivers who completed a test battery of measures before participating in a prevention program. Forty-four percent of bereaved children were classified as resilient and 56% as affected based on the absence of clinically significant mental health problems on at least 1 measure as reported by either the child, surviving caregiver, or teacher on standardized measures of mental health problems. Results of multivariate analyses indicated that bereaved resilient versus affected status was a function of both family and child variables. Higher levels of caregiver warmth and discipline and lower levels of caregiver mental health problems were family-level variables that significantly differentiated resilient children from affected children. Bereaved children's perceptions of less threat in response to negative events and greater personal efficacy in coping with stress were child-level variables that differentiated resilient from affected status. Family and child variables were entered into a discriminant function analysis that correctly classified 72% of the sample. The findings are consistent with a model of resilience in which multilevel variables account for children's positive adaptation following exposure to adversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-683
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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