Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Understanding Gender Differences in Resilience Among Veterans: Trauma History and Social Ecology.

Portnoy GA, Relyea MR, Decker S, Shamaskin-Garroway A, Driscoll M, Brandt CA, Haskell SG. Understanding Gender Differences in Resilience Among Veterans: Trauma History and Social Ecology. Journal of traumatic stress. 2018 Dec 1; 31(6):845-855.

Related HSR&D Project(s)

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


A social-ecological framework for resilience underscores the importance of conceptualizing individuals embedded within their context when evaluating a person's vulnerability and adaptation to stress. Despite a high level of trauma exposure, most veterans exhibit psychological resilience following a traumatic event. Interpersonal trauma is associated with poorer psychological outcomes than noninterpersonal trauma and is experienced more frequently across the lifespan by women as compared to men. In the present study, we examined gender differences in trauma exposure, resilience, and protective factors among veterans. Participants included 665 veterans who completed a baseline survey assessing traumatic events; 544 veterans (81.8%) completed a 1-year follow-up survey assessing resilience, combat exposure, deployment social support, deployment preparedness, and military sexual trauma (MST). Principal component analyses revealed the Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire categorized into four meaningful components: sexual abuse, interpersonal violence, stranger violence, and accidents/unexpected trauma. Women reported greater exposure to sexual abuse, d = 0.76; interpersonal violence, d = 0.31; and MST, Cramer's V = 0.54; men reported greater exposure to stranger violence, accidents/unexpected trauma, and combat exposure, ds = 0.24-0.55. Compared to women, men also reported greater social support during deployment, d = 0.46. Hierarchical linear regression indicated that men's resilience scores were higher than women's, ß = .10, p = .032, yet this association was no longer significant once we accounted for trauma type, ß = .07, p = .197. Results indicate that trauma type is central to resilience and suggest one must consider the social-ecological context that can promote or inhibit resilient processes.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.