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Childhood Adversities and Thriving Skills: Sample Case of Older Swiss Former Indentured Child Laborers


Höltge, Jan; Mc Gee, Shauna L; Maercker, Andreas; Thoma, Myriam V (2018). Childhood Adversities and Thriving Skills: Sample Case of Older Swiss Former Indentured Child Laborers. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 26(8):886-895.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The study of life-long consequences of severe childhood adversities or trauma has recently received much attention. However, little is known about the subjective coping success and development of positively evaluated resources that may originate within these adverse experiences and may be conceptualized as thriving. This study set out to examine the relationship between thriving in response to early adversity and successful aging with a sample of former indentured child laborers in Switzerland (Verdingkinder).

METHODS: Participants were screened according to subjective and objective health-related attributes, and those who were evaluated to be "successful agers" were included. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 former Verdingkinder (mean age: 71 years) that lasted 60-120 minutes. The interviews were analyzed using the paradigm model of the Grounded Theory.

RESULTS: In the interviews adverse experiences and negative consequences were reported. However, where thriving was triggered in response to these experiences, the factors identified as "lightheartedness," "social purpose," and "self-enhancement" were associated with successful aging. Factors including motivation, reflection, personality traits, social support, individual coping strategies, turning points, and processing were reported as central to thriving.

CONCLUSION: The identified factors show similarities with established predictors of health and well-being. Thus, under certain circumstances early and prolonged adverse experiences can also provide the opportunity to develop positive resources for successful aging.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The study of life-long consequences of severe childhood adversities or trauma has recently received much attention. However, little is known about the subjective coping success and development of positively evaluated resources that may originate within these adverse experiences and may be conceptualized as thriving. This study set out to examine the relationship between thriving in response to early adversity and successful aging with a sample of former indentured child laborers in Switzerland (Verdingkinder).

METHODS: Participants were screened according to subjective and objective health-related attributes, and those who were evaluated to be "successful agers" were included. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 former Verdingkinder (mean age: 71 years) that lasted 60-120 minutes. The interviews were analyzed using the paradigm model of the Grounded Theory.

RESULTS: In the interviews adverse experiences and negative consequences were reported. However, where thriving was triggered in response to these experiences, the factors identified as "lightheartedness," "social purpose," and "self-enhancement" were associated with successful aging. Factors including motivation, reflection, personality traits, social support, individual coping strategies, turning points, and processing were reported as central to thriving.

CONCLUSION: The identified factors show similarities with established predictors of health and well-being. Thus, under certain circumstances early and prolonged adverse experiences can also provide the opportunity to develop positive resources for successful aging.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:DoktoratPsych Erstautor
Language:English
Date:August 2018
Deposited On:06 Sep 2018 10:22
Last Modified:06 Sep 2018 10:39
Publisher:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
ISSN:1064-7481
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jagp.2018.02.002
PubMed ID:29706586
Project Information:
  • : FunderSwiss Government Excellence Scholarship
  • : Grant IDESKAS-No. 2016.0109
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderJacobs Foundation
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title

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