Resilience to health challenges is related to different ways of thinking: mediators of physical and emotional quality of life in a heterogeneous rare-disease cohort

Carolyn E. Schwartz, Wesley Michael, Bruce D. Rapkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Background: We sought to understand what distinguishes people who confront health challenges but still manage to thrive. This study investigated whether resilience helps to explain the impact of health challenges on quality of life (QOL) outcomes, and how resilience relates to appraisal. Methods: A web-based survey of rare-disease panel participants included the Centers for Disease Control Healthy Days Core Module, the PROMIS-10, and comorbidities. The QOL Appraisal Profile—v2 assessed cognitive processes underlying QOL. Resilience was operationalized statistically using residual modeling, and hierarchical regressions tested the mediation hypothesis that resilience accounts for a significant amount of the relationship of appraisal to QOL. Results: The study sample (n = 3,324; mean age 50; 86% female; 90% White) represented a range of diagnostic codes, with cancer and diseases of the nervous system being the most prevalent health conditions. After adjusting for comorbidities (catalysts), resilience was associated with better physical and emotional functioning, and different appraisal processes were associated with better or worse physical or emotional functioning. After controlling for catalysts, 62% of the association of Physical Functioning and 23% of the association between Emotional Functioning and appraisal were mediated by resilience. Physical and emotional resilience comprised some of the same appraisal processes, but physically resilient people were characterized by more appraisal processes than their emotionally resilient counterparts. Conclusions: Resilient people employ different appraisal processes than non-resilient people, and these processes differ for physical and emotional outcomes. Resilience was a stronger mediator of the relationship between physical rather than emotional functioning and appraisal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalQuality of Life Research
StateAccepted/In press - Jun 28 2017



  • Appraisal
  • Chronic disease
  • Cognitive processes
  • Mediator
  • Patient-reported outcomes
  • Quality of life
  • Rare disease
  • Resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this