Resilience: Theory and Research

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Healthcare professionals are faced with many stressful situations and organizational changes in their work. Therefore, they need to develop resilience to cope with stress and prevent occupational burnout. Resilience is defined as “a combination of abilities and characteristics that interact dynamically to allow an individual to bounce back, cope successfully, and function above the norm despite significant stress or adversity” (1: p. 3). Resilience is a multifaceted concept; therefore, various researchers focus on its different aspects in their studies. This essay aims at exploring common types of resilience and comparing the views of resilience presented in the article by Tusaie and Dyer (1) and those expressed by Dr. Suzi Robertson-Malt in her interview. The researchers’ views of resilience are similar regarding physiological and psychological resilience, but they focus on slightly different things when it comes to the ways of improving resilience.

Resilience is highly significant in the medical profession since healthcare workers often have to deal with emotionally exhausting situations and make complicated moral decisions. As a result, the ability to recover their emotional and physical state, that is, resilience, is crucial for these specialists. Walton and Lee (2) compare a resilient person to a rubber band because, whenever this person is subject to some strain, he or she can always get back to the normal condition. Resilience does not relate to a single system of the human body; instead, it covers the entire organism. Tusaie and Dyer (1) distinguish two types of resilience: psychological and physiological, while Dr. Suzi separates emotional and mental resilience within the psychological type. Dr. Suzi also speaks of systems resilience that is related to the resilience of a healthcare facility, which is not covered in Tusaie and Dyer’s article. Another researcher, Rushton (3), categorizes resilience into neurobiological, psychological, and social-ecological types. Overall, there seems to be no strict classification of resilience, but various scholars agree on distinguishing between the physiological and psychological aspects of this concept.

Both Dr. Suzi and Tusaie and Dyer explore the factors influencing one’s resilience, with the emphasis given to slightly different things. For example, Tusaie and Dyer (1) stress the importance of psychological characteristics for personal resilience, which include intelligence, optimism, humour, creativity and physical attractiveness. While Dr. Suzi also pays attention to cognitive factors, she emphasizes the importance of sleep for enhancing physiological resilience. Furthermore, both researchers recognize the significance of social support for building resilience. However, Tusaie and Dyer (1) illustrate this by parental support, while Dr. Suzi accentuates the value of teamwork, stating that becoming a valuable team member and expressing one’s opinion in front of others boosts resilience. Both researchers consider that the influencing factors can serve as either facilitators or barriers to resilience, depending on the individual’s condition. For example, Dr. Suzi says that high engagement in teamwork improves resilience, while withholding from participation in group activities and sharing one’s opinion decreases it. Thus, the factors influencing resilience, described by the researchers, considerably overlap but possess certain distinctions.

Unlike Tusaie and Dyer, Dr. Suzi emphasizes the ability of individuals to adapt to change, which she calls mental resilience. The significance of adapting to change has been stressed in various studies. For example, Robertson et al. (4) argue that flexibility in coping with change is an essential attribute of highly-resilient people. Another study (5) indicates that highly-resilient healthcare workers, particularly nurses, accepted organizational changes more favourably and experienced less emotional burnout as a result of these changes. Hence, the omission of the issue of adaptability to change can be regarded as a drawback of Tusaie and Dyer’s article.

To sum up, Tusaie and Dyer’s views of resilience and those of Dr. Suzi are very much alike, but there are differences regarding the types of resilience and factors influencing resilience. Researchers agree on distinguishing between psychological and physiological resilience, but Dr. Suzi also adds systems resilience to this classification. Apart from that, Dr. Suzi pays attention to the significance of adaptability to change. Overall, the scholars’ attitudes toward the importance of resilience for healthcare professionals converge, which implies that medical specialists should develop resilience.


Tusaie K, Dyer J. Resilience: a historical review of the construct. Holistic Nurs Pract. 2004; 18(1): 3-8.

Walton M, Lee P. Resilience: a literature review. IJRMBS. 2018; 4(6): 1-6.

Rushton CH. The many faces of resilience. In: Rushton CH, editor. Moral resilience: transforming moral suffering in healthcare. New York: Oxford University Press; 2018. p. 104-124.

Robertson HD, Elliott AM, Burton C, Iversen L, Murchie P, Porteous T, et al. Resilience of primary healthcare professionals: a systematic review. Br J Gen Pract. 2016; 66(647): e423-e433.

Brown R, Abuatiq A. Resilience as a strategy to survive organizational change. Nursing Management. 2020; 51(2): 16-21.

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PsychologyWriting. "Resilience: Theory and Research." January 27, 2022.