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Self-focused and other-focused resiliency: Plausible mechanisms linking early family adversity to health problems in college women



This study examined whether self-focused and other-focused resiliency help explain how early family adversity relates to perceived stress, subjective health, and health behaviors in college women.


Female students (N = 795) participated between October 2009 and May 2010.


Participants completed self-report measures of early family adversity, self-focused (self-esteem, personal growth initiative) and other-focused (perceived social support, gratitude) resiliency, stress, subjective health, and health behaviors.


Using structural equation modeling, self-focused resiliency associated with less stress, better subjective health, more sleep, less smoking, and less weekend alcohol consumption. Other-focused resiliency associated with more exercise, greater stress, and more weekend alcohol consumption. Early family adversity was indirectly related to all health outcomes, except smoking, via self-focused and other-focused resiliency.


Self-focused and other-focused resiliency represent plausible mechanisms through which early family adversity relates to stress and health in college women. This highlights areas for future research in disease prevention and management.

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