Resilient Hearts: Measuring Resiliency in Young People With Congenital Heart Disease

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of the American Heart Association








congenital heart disease; mental health; resiliency


Background Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a life-long disease with long-term consequences on physical and mental health. Patients with CHD face multifaceted physical and psychosocial challenges. Resilience is an important factor that can be protective and positively impact mental health. We studied resiliency and its associated factors in teenagers and young adults with and without CHD using a social media-delivered survey. Resilience was measured using the 25-item Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale, a validated metric with a historical mean of 80.4/100 in the general adult population. Methods and Results Individuals with and without CHD, aged 10 to 25 years, were prospectively recruited on social media to complete an online survey. The survey was completed from January to February 2022. Respondents provided information on their demographics and CHD details (where applicable) and completed the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale. As a group, participants with CHD had higher resilience scores compared with same-aged healthy individuals (65.3±16.1 versus 55.4±13.8; <0.001). For both cohorts, sex, race, and age were not associated with differences in resilience score. For individuals with CHD, lower resilience was associated with more hospital admissions, lack of exercise, presence of a mental health diagnosis, and no participation in support groups or disease-specific camps. Conclusions Young people with CHD had higher resilience than individuals without CHD in our sample. We identified several factors, both modifiable and nonmodifiable, that are associated with higher resilience. Awareness of resiliency and its contributors in the population with CHD may assist medical teams in improving patient physical and psychological well-being.