Resilience of Emerging Adults After Adverse Childhood Experiences: A Qualitative Systematic Review

Doris Y.L. Leung, Athena C.Y. Chan, Grace W.K. Ho

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Even as children experience adversity, they can become resilient adults, in large part due to their social supports as emerging adults. 

Objective: Authors examine constructs of social support applied to the concept of resilience among emerging adults having experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACE). 

Method: Authors conducted a meta-ethnography with six databases between January 1998 and October 2019. Inclusion criteria were as follows: (i) original peer-reviewed qualitative or mixed-method studies, (ii) sampling adults aged 18–35 years, (iii) reporting at least one ACE as defined by the World Health Organization, (iv) focused on resilience, and (v) in English. Data were collected from six electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsychINFO, Web of Science, and Google Scholar). Studies were appraised using the Critical Appraisal Skills Program Qualitative Checklist. Analysis drew on Bourdieu’s constructs of capital following Noblit and Hare’s methods. 

Results: Thirteen studies of 277 emerging adults, aged 18–35 years old (mean 23 years), from six countries, reported resilience as “self-righting” appraisals. These were interdependent of their social supports and within a culturally determined sense of self-reliance. Self-reliance appeared to be a precursor shaping resilience of emerging adults with ACE. Self-reliance may deter self-compassion and, as a self-righting appraisal/capacity, may inhibit accessing social support. 

Conclusion: This review emphasizes the life stage of emerging adulthood regarding the development of self-righting appraisal skills, which, when enabled with reliance, others help to transform ACEs and allow resilience to grow.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Jun 2020


  • adversity
  • health promotion
  • resilience
  • systematic review
  • young adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Resilience of Emerging Adults After Adverse Childhood Experiences: A Qualitative Systematic Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this