An increasing fascination with resilience among researchers and service providers concerned with enhancing the capacities of at-risk children, youth and families has lead many in the fi eld of children’s mental health to shift their focus from pathology to strengths. Despite this interest in resilience related phenomena, the validity of the resilience construct remains a point of debate. Two frequently noted shortcomings in studies of resilience formed the basis for this research endeavor: the arbitrariness in the selection of outcome variables, and the challenge of accounting for the social and cultural context in which resilience occurs. To examine these issues, an interdisciplinary team of international researchers with expertise in both qualitative and quantitative methods and service providers was established in 2001. A three-year project is now underway in Canada, the United States, Colombia, Hong Kong, India, Palestine, Israel and Russia to develop and pilot a methodology to study resilience that is contextually relevant and systematic in its selection of outcome criteria. The challenge posed to the research team is to develop a mixed method design that can draw together fi ndings from communities struggling with social disintegration, war, crime and violence, economic and political upheaval, poverty, and racism, while also studying youth struggling with mental health and addictions problems and the challenges of living in care or on the streets. Each research site, though chosen predominantly for one constellation of environmental, familial, or personal risk factors, provides access to a culturally diverse sample of children, youth, and their service providers. By bringing together leaders in the fi eld of resilience research from different disciplines (e.g., education, social work, psychology, neuropsychiatry, medical anthropology, epidemiology, etc.), and cultural backgrounds with methodologically diverse approaches (quantitative researchers with experience in longitudinal, epidemiological, and case study designs; qualitative researchers with experience with grounded theory, ethnographic and phenomenological methods) our intent is to develop an approach to health research that promotes contextual relevance. Because the research team also includes community practitioners and advisors, it is anticipated that the resulting methodology and the studies that follow will be useful to the communities collaborating in the design work.
Scholar Commons Citation
Ungar, Michael; Boothroyd, Roger A.; Duque, Luis; and LeBlanc, John, "Methodological and contextual challenges to researching childhood resilience: An international collaboration" (2003). Mental Health Law & Policy Faculty Publications. 471.