Characterization of vulnerable and resilient Spanish adolescents in their developmental contexts
Research on resilience and vulnerability can offer very valuable information for optimizing design and assessment of interventions and policies aimed at fostering adolescent health. This paper used the adversity level associated with family functioning and the positive adaptation level, as measured by means of a global health score, to distinguish four groups within a representative sample of Spanish adolescents aged 13-16 years: maladaptive, resilient, competent and vulnerable. The aforementioned groups were compared in a number of demographic, school context, peer context, lifestyles, psychological and socioeconomic variables, which can facilitate or inhibit positive adaptation in each context. In addition, the degree to which each factor tended to associate with resilience and vulnerability was examined. The majority of the factors operated by increasing the likelihood of good adaptation in resilient adolescents and diminishing it in vulnerable ones. Overall, more similarities than differences were found in the factors contributing to explaining resilience or vulnerability. However, results also revealed some differential aspects: psychological variables showed a larger explicative capacity in vulnerable adolescents, whereas factors related to school and peer contexts, especially the second, showed a stronger association with resilience. In addition, perceived family wealth, satisfaction with friendships and breakfast frequency only made a significant contribution to the explanation of resilience. The current study provides a highly useful characterization of resilience and vulnerability phenomena in adolescence.