Bounce back capacity in persons with mental disorders: a comparative study following a catastrophic event

Capacità di “Bounce back” in persone con disturbi mentali: un confronto dopo un evento catastrofico

P. Stratta, S. de Cataldo, R.L. Bonanni, A. Marino, A. Collazzoni, G. Di Emidio, M. Ragusa, M. Bustini, C. Capanna, A. Rossi

1 National Mental Health Care Service (NMHCS), L’Aquila; 2 Ph.D. Program, Department of Psychiatry, Neurobiology, Pharmacology and Biotechnology, University of Pisa; 3 National Mental Health Care Service (NMHCS), Rieti; 4 Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L’Aquila


“Bounce back” (i.e. ability to recover from stress and traumas) captures the essence of resilience. It may be particularly important for subjects who are already ill, and above all if suffering from mental disorders. This study assessed the capacity of “bounce back” of subjects with different mental disorders exposed to the L’Aquila (Italy) earthquake, in order to investigate its relationship with diagnosis and severity of mental disorders.

One hundred people referred to mental health facilities, were evaluated using: i) Brief Resilience Scale; ii) a Visual Analogue Scale for subjective adjustment evaluation after the earthquake; iii) Clinical Global Impression scale. Thirty-seven non-exposed patients referring to mental health facilities in an area that was not involved in the earthquake have also been evaluated. All diagnoses were based on ICD-10.

Subjects with a higher “bounce back” score showed better subjective adjustment. “Bounce back” ability is not function of different diagnoses, severity of mental disorder, sex, or age. Subjective adjustment only reflects “bounce back” capacity. Conclusion
It is likely that multiple factors related to diagnosis and mental health features as well as factors related to social context intervened in enhancing personal resilience. The social meaning of care and rescue efforts offered to earthquake survivors could have had a role in enhancing personal resilience; thus, this could have conferred an advantage to stigmatized or isolated subjects.

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