Resiliency has attracted a growing interest in paediatric rehabilitation as a key capacity for disabled children and their families to thrive. This study aimed to identify measures used to assess resiliency of disabled children/youth and their families and critically appraise the current use of resiliency measures to inform future research and practice.
A two‐stage search strategy was employed. First, systematic reviews of resiliency measures published since 2000 were searched. Second, full names of measures identified in at least two systematic reviews were searched across four electronic databases. Included studies assessed resiliency among children/youth (0–18 years old) with chronic health conditions and/or disabilities and their families. Identified articles were then analysed to discern the study's definition of resiliency, authors' rationales for measurement selection, and types of perceived adversities facing the study participants.
From an initial yield of 25 measures identified in five systematic reviews, 11 were analysed in two or more reviews. The second stage yielded 41 empirical studies published between 2012 and 2018, which used 8 of the 11 resiliency measures searched by name. Of 41, 17 studies measured resiliency of disabled children/youth, 23 assessed resiliency within family members, and 1 studied both children/youth and their families. Our critical appraisal identified inconsistencies between the studies' definition of resiliency and chosen measures' operationalization, implicit assumption of disabilities as a developmental risk that automatically results in life adversities, and the tendency among family studies to reduce resiliency down to stress coping skills. Research that encompasses contextual factors and developmental influences is lacking.
There is a need for a situated measurement approach that captures multiple interacting factors shaping resiliency over one's life course. Resiliency measures would benefit from a greater focus on a person–environment transaction and an alternative definition of resiliency that accounts for multiple capacities to navigate through disabling environments.