Neuropsychology Review

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 173–185 | Cite as

Resilience and Other Possible Outcomes After Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: a Systematic Review

  • Karen A. Sullivan
  • Chloe B. Kempe
  • Shannon L. Edmed
  • George A. Bonanno


The relation between resilience and mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) outcome has been theorized but empirical studies have been scarce. This systematic review aimed to describe the research in this area. Electronic databases (Medline, CINAHL, PsychINFO, SPORTdiscus, and PILOTS) were searched from inception to August 2015 for studies in which resilience was measured following TBI. The search terms included ‘TBI’ ‘concussion’ ‘postconcussion’ ‘resilience’ and ‘hardiness’. Inclusion criteria were peer reviewed original research reports published in English, human participants aged 18 years and over with brain injury, and an accepted definition of mild TBI. Hand searching of identified articles was also undertaken. Of the 71 studies identified, five studies were accepted for review. These studies were formally assessed for risk of bias by two independent reviewers. Each study carried a risk of bias, most commonly a detection bias, but none were excluded on this basis. A narrative interpretation of the findings was used because the studies reflected fundamental differences in the conceptualization of resilience. No studies employed a trajectory based approach to measure a resilient outcome. In most cases, the eligible studies assessed trait resilience with a scale and used it as a predictor of outcome (postconcussion symptoms). Three of these studies showed that greater trait resilience was associated with better mild TBI outcomes (fewer symptoms). Future research of the adult mild TBI response that predicts a resilient outcome is encouraged. These studies could yield empirical evidence for a resilient, and other possible mild TBI outcomes.


Mild traumatic brain injury Resilience Concussion Persistent postconcussion symptoms 



The authors acknowledge the assistance of S. Kate Devitt, PhD (QUT) for guidance on conducting systematic database searches. The authors thank Simon Smith, PhD (QUT) for assistance with the final production of Fig. 1.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Sullivan, Kempe, Edmed and Bonanno declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen A. Sullivan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chloe B. Kempe
    • 1
  • Shannon L. Edmed
    • 1
    • 2
  • George A. Bonanno
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Psychology and CounsellingQueensland University of Technology (QUT)BrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Institute of Health and Biomedical InnovationQueensland University of Technology (QUT)BrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Teachers College, Department of Counseling and Clinical PsychologyColombia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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