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Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences; UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center

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Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Geriatrics | Preventive Medicine | Race and Ethnicity | Women's Health


Introduction: Resilience-which we define as the "ability to bounce back from stress"-can foster successful aging among older, racially and ethnically diverse women. This study investigated the association between psychological resilience in the Women's Health Initiative Extension Study (WHI-ES) and three constructs defined by Staudinger's 2015 model of resilience and aging: (1) perceived stress, (2) non-psychological resources, and (3) psychological resources. We further examined whether the relationship between resilience and key resources differed by race/ethnicity.

Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis on 77,395 women aged 62+ (4475 Black or African American; 69,448 non-Hispanic White; 1891 Hispanic/Latina; and 1581 Asian or Pacific Islanders) who enrolled in the WHI-ES, which was conducted in the United States. Participants completed a short version of the Brief Resilience Scale one-time in 2011. Guided by Staudinger's model, we used linear regression analysis to examine the relationships between resilience and resources, adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, and stressful life events. To identify the most significant associations, we applied elastic net regularization to our linear regression models.

Findings: On average, women who reported higher resilience were younger, had fewer stressful life events, and reported access to more resources. Black or African American women reported the highest resilience, followed by Hispanic/Latina, non-Hispanic White, and Asian or Pacific Islander women. The most important resilience-related resources were psychological, including control of beliefs, energy, personal growth, mild-to-no forgetfulness, and experiencing a sense of purpose. Race/ethnicity significantly modified the relationship between resilience and energy (overall interaction p = 0.0017).

Conclusion: Increasing resilience among older women may require culturally informed stress reduction techniques and resource-building strategies, including empowerment to control the important things in life and exercises to boost energy levels.


Women’s Health Initiative, aging, race/ethnicity, resilience, resources, women’s health

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DOI of Published Version



Springfield S, Qin F, Hedlin H, Eaton CB, Rosal MC, Taylor H, Staudinger UM, Stefanick ML. Modifiable Resources and Resilience in Racially and Ethnically Diverse Older Women: Implications for Health Outcomes and Interventions. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Jun 9;19(12):7089. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19127089. PMID: 35742334; PMCID: PMC9223074. Link to article on publisher's site

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International journal of environmental research and public health

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.