Resilience is the ability of individuals to adapt positively in the face of trauma. Little is known, however, about lifetime factors affecting resilience.
We assessed the effects of psychiatric disorder and lifetime trauma history on the resilience self-evaluation using the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC-10) in a high-risk-women sample. Two hundred and thirty eight community-dwelling women, including 122 participants in a study of breast cancer survivors and 116 participants without previous history of cancer completed the CD-RISC-10. Lifetime psychiatric symptoms were assessed retrospectively using two standardized psychiatric examinations (Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview and Watson's Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Inventory).
Multivariate logistic regression adjusted for age, education, trauma history, cancer, current psychiatric diagnoses, and psychoactive treatment indicated a negative association between current psychiatric disorder and high resilience compared to low resilience level (OR = 0.44, 95% CI [0.21–0.93]). This was related to anxiety and not mood disorder. A positive and independent association with a trauma history was also observed (OR = 3.18, 95% CI [1.44–7.01]).
Self-evaluation of resilience is influenced by both current anxiety disorder and trauma history. The independent positive association between resilience and trauma exposure may indicate a “vaccination” effect. This finding need to be taken into account in future studies evaluating resilience in general or clinical populations.