Understanding the resilience of children living on an American Indian reservation: A mixed methods participatory study

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Aim: To explore the resilience of children, six to thirteen years old, living on a Northern Plains American Indian Reservation using a situation specific nursing theory. Background: American Indian and Alaska Native children experience mental health inequities compared to their white peers, including substance use, suicide, depression, and anxiety. Resilience is a strength of children that can be leveraged to improve their mental health. Design: A parallel convergent mixed methods design. Methods: A community advisory board culturally adapted resilience instruments. During two weeks in summer 2022, forty-seven children/caregiver dyads completed surveys about the child's resilience. Descriptive statistics gave the scores of each child's personal, relational, and total resilience. A subset of 20 children participated in a semi-structured interview. Results: Children scored high on overall resilience, and higher on the relational subscale than the personal subscale. Caregiver survey scores were not significantly correlated with their child's scores and were higher than the children's scores. Qualitative coding revealed six themes of resilience. Integration of data showed a concordance and expansion of the quantitative data across themes. Conclusion: The children reported high resilience supported by a strong ecosystem of relationships. Resilience, as explained through children's voices, corroborated with findings from the surveys. Implications for Nursing: Findings will help nurses across sectors of primary, secondary, and tertiary care create resilience-enhancing interventions and prevent mental health crises in this community. Impact Statement: This findings from this study will inform local mental health interventions on the Reservation. The study provides a reproducible design to adapt to other Indigenous communities. Public Contribution: A community advisory board was a partner in every stage of the study. Children and caregivers participated in data collection. Contribution to the Wider Clinical Community: This research provides knowledge that will further social justice efforts within nursing to promote health equity across diverse populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4411-4424
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of advanced nursing
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • American Indian/Alaska native
  • children
  • community advisory board
  • community-based participatory research
  • culturally adapted instruments
  • mental health disparities
  • mixed methods
  • resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing

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