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The Positive Effect of Resilience on Stress and Business Outcomes in Difficult Work Environments

Shatté, Andrew PhD; Perlman, Adam MD, MPH; Smith, Brad PhD; Lynch, Wendy D. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2017 - Volume 59 - Issue 2 - p 135–140
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000914
Original Articles

Objective: To examine whether resilience has a protective effect in difficult work environments.

Methods: A survey of 2063 individuals measured individual resilience, stress, burnout, sleep problems, likelihood of depression, job satisfaction, intent to quit, absences, and productivity. It also measured work characteristics: job demands, job influence, and social support. Multivariate and logistic regression models examined the main effects and interactions of resilience and job characteristics.

Results: High strain work environments (high demand, low influence, and low support) have an unfavorable effect on all outcomes. Resilience has a protective effect on all outcomes. For stress, burnout, and sleep, higher resilience has a more protective effect under low-strain conditions. For depression, absence and productivity, resilience has a more protective effect when job strain is high.

Conclusions: Workers with high resilience have better outcomes in difficult work environments.

Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text

Mindflex, LLC; College of Medicine, The University of Arizona, Arizona; The Brookings Institution (Dr Shatté); meQuilibrium (Drs Shatté, Perlman, Smith); Department of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina (Dr Perlman); and Lynch Consulting, Ltd., Steamboat Springs, Colorado; IUPUI School of Nursing, Indianapolis, Indiana (Dr Lynch).

Address correspondence to: Brad Smith, PhD, meQuilibrium, 260 Franklin Street, S. 900, Boston, MA 02110 (

Work was funded by meQuilibrium Corporation.

Dr Shatté receives speaking fees for topics related to resilience.

Dr Pearlman receives speaking fees for topics related to resilience.

Dr Lynch receives consulting fees from meQuilibrium for research and writing activities.

Dr Lynch often receives speaking fees for similar topics.

Dr Lynch receives consulting fees from employers and companies related to corporate health.

Dr Smith has no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Website (

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially without permission from the journal.

Copyright © 2017 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine