Examining the Associations Between Childhood Trauma, Resilience, and Depression: A Multivariate Meta-Analysis

Elizabeth R. Watters, Ariel M. Aloe, Armeda S. Wojciak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Topic of review: Childhood trauma has been associated with increased depression; however, resilience has been found to reduce this association. Method of review: Present analyses were based on multivariate meta-analytical techniques, an extension of univariate meta-analysis. All computations were performed using the metafor package and the metaRmat package from R. Bivariate associations (r) between trauma, resilience, and depression were utilized as the pooled effect sizes. Criteria for inclusion: Following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, articles were coded based on the following inclusion criteria: (a) sample participants had a history of childhood trauma; (b) studies included one of the four instruments of trait resilience; (c) studies included measures of individual outcomes of depression; (d) studies were published in peer-reviewed journals, dissertations, book chapters since 2009, or provided by leading scholars who had yet to publish their data; (e) all manuscripts were written in English; and (f) studies included the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient (r) for the effect size. Criteria for review: We systematically coded for the following items for each study: year of publication, type of report, peer-reviewed, funding, sampling strategy, sample size, gender, mean age, country of study, measure of resilience, measure depression, and measure of childhood trauma. Major findings: The pooled correlations indicate that trauma, resilience, and depression are significantly associated. There were no significant differences in symptoms of depression for high versus low reports of resilience for individuals with a history of trauma. Year of publication was a significant moderator for the associations between trauma, resilience, and depression. Resilience significantly mediated the association between trauma and depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-244
Number of pages14
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Issue number1
Early online dateJul 27 2021
StatePublished - Jul 27 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • childhood trauma
  • depression
  • multivariate meta-analysis
  • resilience


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