Since most children are exposed to violence (e.g., peer, family, or community violence), which makes children's exposure to violence one of the most urgent social problems, the objective of the current study was to examine health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in a vulnerable community sample and identify promising psychological and social protective factors to promote HRQOL in youth.
The sample was composed of 440 youth ages 10 to 21 (average age 16.38, SD = 3.04) recruited from youth-serving organizations. Participants completed a survey on HRQOL, victimization, other adversities, and a range of 16 psychological and social strengths. Almost 9 in 10 (89.3 percent) youth reported at least one victimization during their lifetime, and impaired HRQOL was common, with more than half reporting some health impairment in the month prior to the survey. Although all psychological and social strengths were positively correlated with HRQOL at the bivariate level, hierarchical regression indicated that a sense of purpose and recovering positive affect uniquely contributed to better HRQOL, after controlling for victimization, other adversities, poverty, age, and gender (total R2 = 0.21). Strengths accounted for more variance in HRQOL than did adversities. The study concluded that in this highly victimized sample of youth, many strengths were associated with improved HRQOL for youth, with sense of purpose and recovering positive affect showing the most promise for future prevention and intervention. Programs aimed at reducing the negative impact of childhood exposure to violence may increase their impact by developing key strengths rather than solely focusing on alleviating symptoms. (publisher abstract modified)