International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 194–200 | Cite as

The brief resilience scale: Assessing the ability to bounce back

  • Bruce W. SmithEmail author
  • Jeanne Dalen
  • Kathryn Wiggins
  • Erin Tooley
  • Paulette Christopher
  • Jennifer Bernard


Background: While resilience has been defined as resistance to illness, adaptation, and thriving, the ability to bounce back or recover from stress is closest to its original meaning. Previous resilience measures assess resources that may promote resilience rather than recovery, resistance, adaptation, or thriving. Purpose: To test a new brief resilience scale. Method: The brief resilience scale (BRS) was created to assess the ability to bounce back or recover from stress. Its psychometric characteristics were examined in four samples, including two student samples and samples with cardiac and chronic pain patients. Results: The BRS was reliable and measured as a unitary construct. It was predictably related to personal characteristics, social relations, coping, and health in all samples. It was negatively related to anxiety, depression, negative affect, and physical symptoms when other resilience measures and optimism, social support, and Type D personality (high negative affect and high social inhibition) were controlled. There were large differences in BRS scores between cardiac patients with and without Type D and women with and without fibromyalgia. Conclusion: The BRS is a reliable means of assessing resilience as the ability to bounce back or recover from stress and may provide unique and important information about people coping with health-related stressors.

Key words

brief resilience scale stress recovery pain cardiac 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Agnes, M. (Ed.). (2005). Webster’s new college dictionary. Cleveland, OH: Wiley.Google Scholar
  2. Ahern, N. R., Kiehl, E. M., Sole, M. L., & Byers, J. (2006). A review of instruments measuring resilience. Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing, 29, 103–125.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bagby, M. R., Parker, J. D. A., & Taylor, G. J. (1994). The twenty-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale-I item selection and cross-validation of the factor structure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38, 23–32.Google Scholar
  4. Block, J., & Kremen, A. M. (1996). IQ and ego-resiliency: Conceptual and empirical connections and separateness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 349–361.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carver, C. S. (1997). You want to measure coping but your protocol’s too long: Consider the Brief COPE. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 4, 92–100.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carver, C. S. (1998). Resilience and thriving: Issues, models, and linkages. Journal of Social Issues, 54, 245–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chan, I. W. S., Lai, J. C. L., & Wong, K. W. N. (2006). Resilience is associated with better recovery in Chinese people diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Psychology and Health, 21(3), 335–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Charney, D. S. (2004). Psychobiological mechanisms of resilience and vulnerability: Implications for successful adaptation to extreme stress. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 195–216.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24, 385–396.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cohen, S., Mermelstein, R., Karmarck, T., & Hoberman, H. (1985). Measuring the functional components of social support. In I. G. Sarason & B. R. Sarason (Eds.), Social support: Theory, research, and application. The Hague, Holland: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  11. Connor, K. M., & Davidson, J. R. T. (2003). Development of a new resilience scale: The Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC). Depression and Anxiety, 18,76–82.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Denollet, J. (2005). DS14: Standard assessment of negative affectivity, social inhibition, and Type D personality. Psychosomatic Medicine, 67, 89–97.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Finch, J. F., Okun, M. A., Barrera, M., Zautra, A. J., & Reich, J. W. (1989). Positive and negative social ties among older adults: Measurement models and the prediction of psychological stress and well-being. American Journal of Community Psychology, 17, 585–605.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Larsen, R., & Diener, E. (1992). Promises and problems with the circumplex model of emotion. In M. S. Clarke (Ed.), Emotion (pp. 25–59). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Masten, A. S. (2001). Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development. American Psychologist, 56, 227–238.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Moos, R. H., Cronkite, R. C., & Finney, J. W. (1986). Health and Daily Living Manual (2nd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Center for Health Care Evaluation, Stanford University Medical Centers.Google Scholar
  17. Ryff, C. D., & Keyes, C. L. M. (1995). The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 719–727.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Scheier, M. F., Carver, C. S., & Bridges, M. W. (1994). Distinguishing optimism from neuroticism (and trait anxiety, self-mastery, and self-esteem): A reevaluation of the Life Orientation Test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 1063–1078.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Sherbourne, C. D., & Stewart, A. L. (1991). The MOS social support survey. Social Science and Medicine, 32, 705–714.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Tusaie, K., & Dyer, J. (2004). Resilience: A historical review of the construct. Holistic Nursing Practice, 18,3–88.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Veit, C. T., & Ware, J. E. (1983). The structure of psychological distress and well-being in general populations. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 51, 730–742.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Wagnild, G. M., & Young, H. M. (1993). Development and psychometric evaluation of the resilience scale. Journal of Nursing Measurement, 1, 165–178.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS Scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063–1070.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Zautra, A. J., Johnson, L. M., & Davis, M. C. (2005). Positive affect as a source for resilience for women in chronic pain. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73, 212–220.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Zigmond, A. S., & Snaith, R. P. (1983). The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 67, 361–370.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce W. Smith
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jeanne Dalen
    • 1
  • Kathryn Wiggins
    • 1
  • Erin Tooley
    • 1
  • Paulette Christopher
    • 1
  • Jennifer Bernard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueNew Mexico

Personalised recommendations