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Resilience—Rhetoric to Reality: A Systematic Review of Intervention Studies After Disasters

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2014

Gisela van Kessel*
School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia
Colin MacDougall
Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity, and School of Medicine, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia & Jack Brockhoff Child Health & Wellbeing Program, University of Melbourne
Lisa Gibbs
Jack Brockhoff Child Health & Wellbeing Program, Centre for Health Equity, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria
Correspondence and reprint requests to Gisela van Kessel, DrPH, MHSM, Division of Health Sciences, School of Health Sciences, City East Campus, Rm C-7-67, Level 3 – Centenary Bldg, Frome Rd, Adelaide SA 5000 (E-mail:



This report aimed to examine the literature regarding evidence about community-based interventions that use the concept of resilience to increase positive health outcomes after disaster.


A search was conducted of databases; gray literature, public health journals, and available key journals focused on disaster, emergency, and trauma from inception to December 2013. Excluded were non-English publications, only about children or adolescents, or a commentary or theoretical discussion on resilience.


From a total of 1880 records, excluding duplicates, 8 studies were found. Exclusions included participants younger than age 18 years (n=74), non-English (n=40), nonempirical (n=265), not referring to disaster (n=188), not a public health intervention (n=319), and not related to an intervention targeting resilience (n=890).


This systematic review highlighted a gap in the evidence relating to interventions targeting the resilience of adults who have experienced a disaster. The results were mixed in relation to information provision but promising for strategies that promote social interactions or develop community competence. Future studies could explore the ability of interventions to build the intrinsic capacity of a system, community, or society at risk of a disaster to adapt and survive. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2014;0:1-9)

Systematic Review
Copyright © Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. 2014 

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