Drive to thrive theory: Understanding and fostering resilience among refugee and post-conflict populations

Wai Kai HOU, Brian HALL, Stevan HOBFOLL

Research output: Other contributionOther contributions


Objective: Prior work has considered demand and distress, temporal dynamics, and differential outcomes in defining human stress resilience but not fundamental developmental processes of resilience across different life challenges. The objectives of this talk are to review the current literature on the everyday life processes of adaptation among refugee and post-conflict populations and to outline the Drive to Thrive (DTT) theory in an attempt to advance existing understanding of stress adaptation and resilience among those people. Methods: The current literature on everyday adaptation among refugees and post-conflict populations is critically reviewed. Applications of the DTT theory to guide empirical investigation and intervention development among refugee and post-conflict populations are evaluated with references to systematic and meta- analytic reviews of the relevant literature. Results: There is an increasing body of literature recognizing daily stressors as a missing yet essential component for investigating the link between direct exposure to trauma and health. The daily stressor model (Miller & Rasmussen, 2010, 2014) proposes that daily stressors, referring to stressful personal and social situations that are encountered by people in everyday life after trauma, are more predictive of people’s mental health than preexisting vulnerability factors including trauma exposure. Supportive evidence was obtained in different refugee and conflict-affected populations. More clarity is nonetheless needed in conceptualizing and assessing everyday life processes following traumatic events. The DTT theory could bridge the current knowledge gap in psychosocial research and interventions among the refugee and post-conflict populations. Conclusion: In-depth investigation of the everyday life processes that contextualize adaptation among refugees conflict- affected populations could be limited without teasing apart variations in the impacts of different everyday life processes on mental health (Betancourt et al., 2010; Hou, Hall, & Hobfoll, 2017). Research of psychological resilience among refugee and post- conflict populations should move from examination of preexisting predictors to direct testing of concrete everyday life processes, which is the underlying context that stressors change and transform psychological distress and well-being of the populations. Copyright © 2017 ISTSS Annual Meeting.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


Hou, W.-K., Hall, B., & Hobfoll, S. (2017, November). Drive to thrive theory: Understanding and fostering resilience among refugee and post-conflict populations. Poster presented at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies 33rd Annual Meeting: Trauma and Complexity: From Self to Cells, Palmer House Hotel, Chicago, US.


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