Resilience-promoting factors in war-exposed adolescents: an epidemiologic study.


Studies of war-exposed children have not investigated a comprehensive array of resilience-promoting factors, nor representative samples of children and adolescents. A representative sample of N = 710 adolescents was randomly selected from communities recently exposed to war. All those who had experienced war trauma were administered questionnaires measuring war exposure, family violence, availability of leisure activities, school-related problems, interpersonal and peer problems, socialization, daily routine problems, displacement, availability of parental supervision and contact and medical needs as well as coping skills related to religious coping, denial, self-control, avoidance and problem solving. Mental health was measured by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and the Child-Revised Impact of Events Scale (CRIES). Resilient adolescents were defined as those who experienced war trauma, but did not manifest any symptoms on the SDQ or CRIES. Resilience was related to being male, using problem-solving techniques, having leisure activities, and having parents who spent time with their adolescents and who supported them with school work. Interventions designed for war-traumatized youth must build individual coping skills of children and adolescents, yet at the same time target parents and teachers in an integrated manner.