Culture, Resilience, and Health

‘Culture’ is one of the most understudied dimensions of resilience as a pathway to health.  Our program examines resilience across cultures, integrating qualitative and quantitative research to connect the dots between cultural values, socio-political structures, family-level resilience, and individual health outcomes. Research projects in Afghanistan, Jordan, and Sierra Leone focus specifically on family-level resilience. 

New publications:

‘Health, Risk, and Resilience’ in Annual Review of Anthropology.

Ongoing projects:

Child and Youth Resilience Scale: we developed and validated the Arabic-language Child and Youth Resilience Measured (CYRM), and are currently implementing the measure with Syrian refugee and Jordanian youth.


slide 4Resilience and Mental Health in Afghanistan. Mark Eggerman and Catherine Panter-Brick have conducted the first longitudinal survey of child and adolescent mental health in Afghanistan – a project designed to integrate cross-cultural psychiatric epidemiology with medical anthropology.  With analysis of longitudinal data, they provide evidence for the cluster of adversities that impact family wellbeing and the mental health cascade across generations. They also identify the culturally-meaningful leverage points for building family-level resilience, relevant to the prevention and intervention agenda in global mental health.


An Ethnographic Study of Father-Child Interactions & Child Development in Sierra Leone.  This study, led by Kristen McLean, provides much-needed data on how men raise their children in the aftermath of conflict, and the impact of father engagement on family dynamics and child wellbeing.  The study is embedded within the research program directed by Professor Theresa Betancourt on the intergenerational impact of war in Sierra Leone.  For the Harvard program, please see:


Mental health and idioms of distress in Haiti. For her work in Haiti, Kristen McLean is collaborating on a project led by Dr. Brandon Korht, on suicide, depression, and care-seeking behaviors.



Mental health, psychosocial distress, and stress biomarkers: Amelia Sancilio, Mark Eggerman, Andrew Rasmussen, Peter Ventevogel, and Catherine Panter-Brick have evaluated measures of wellbeing in Afghanistan, to compare the extent to which screening for poor mental health (using a standard WHO scale) maps onto psychosocial distress (using a culturally-specific scale) and physiological stress (blood pressure).



Sancilio A, Eggerman M, Panter-Brick C (2016). Biocultural research in global mental health: Mapping idioms of distress onto blood pressure in a population survey. American Journal of Human Biology. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22899.

Panter-Brick, C. (2014). Health, Risk, and Resilience: Interdisciplinary Concepts and Applications.  Annual Review of Anthropology 43: 431-448. See

Panter-Brick C, Grimon, M-P, Kalin, M, Eggerman, M (2014).  Trauma Memories, Mental Health, and Resilience: A Prospective Study of Afghan Youth. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. [Open access].

Panter-Brick C, Grimon, Marie-Pascale, and Eggerman M (2014). Caregiver-child mental health: A prospective study in conflict and refugee settings. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 55(4): 313-327.
Omidian PA, and Panter-Brick C (2015).  Dignity under extreme duress: The moral and emotional landscape of local humanitarian workers in the Afghan-Pakistan border areas.  In Abramowitz S and Panter-Brick C (Eds). Medical Humanitarianism: Ethnographies of Practice.  University of Pennsylvania Press.

Rasmussen A, Ventevogel P, Sancilio A, Eggerman M, and Panter-Brick C (2014).  Comparing the validity of the self-reporting questionnaire and the Afghan symptom checklist: Dysphoria, aggression, and gender in transcultural assessment of mental health.  British Journal of Psychiatry 14(206)
 [Open access].

Southwick S, Bonanno GA, Masten AS, Panter-Brick C, Yehuda R (2014).  Resilience definitions, theory, and challenges: Interdisciplinary Perspectives.  European Journal of Trauma Psychopathology (special issue Resilience and Trauma) 5:25338.

Eggerman and Panter-Brick C (2014).  Life Feeds on Hope: Family mental health, culture, and resilience. In Jennifer Heath and Ashraf Zahedi (Eds.) Children of Afghanistan: The Path to Peace, University of Texas Press, pp.226-238.

Panter-Brick C and Leckman J (2013). Resilience in Child Development: Interconnected Pathways to Wellbeing. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 54:4, 333-336.

Ventevogel P, Jordans M, Eggerman M, van Mierlo B, Panter-Brick C (2013). Child mental health, psychosocial wellbeing and resilience in Afghanistan: a review and future directions.  In C Fernando and M Ferrari (Eds.) Handbook of Resilience in Children of War.  Springer, pp.51-79.

Hagaman AK, Wagenaar BH, McLean KE, Winskell K, Kaiser BN, and Kohrt BA. (2013). Suicide in rural Haiti: Clinical and community perceptions of prevalence, etiology, and prevention. Social Science & Medicine, 83, 61-9. 
Panter-Brick C, Grimon M, and Eggerman M (2013). Caregiver-child mental health: A prospective study in conflict and refugee settings. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 55 (4), pp.313-327.

Ager A, Annan J, Panter-Brick C.  Resilience – From Conceptualization to effective intervention. Policy Brief for Humanitarian and Development Agencies. 

Wagenaar BH, Hagaman AK, Kaiser BN, McLean KE, Kohrt BA. (2012). Depression, suicidal ideation, and associated factors: a cross-sectional study in rural Haiti. BMC Psychiatry, 12:149. 
Panter-Brick C, Goodman A, Tol W, Eggerman M (2011). Mental health and childhood adversities: A longitudinal study in Kabul, Afghanistan.  Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 50(4):349-363.

Eggerman M and Panter-Brick C (2010). Suffering, hope, and entrapment: Resilience and cultural values in Afghanistan. Social Science & Medicine 71:71-83.

Panter-Brick C, Eggerman M, Gonzalez V, Safdar S (2009). Violence, suffering and mental health: A school-based survey in Afghanistan.  The Lancet 374: 807-16.

Panter-Brick C, Eggerman M, Mojadidi A, McDade T (2008). Social stressors, mental health, and physiological stress in an urban elite of young Afghans in Kabul.  American Journal of Human Biology 20(6):627-641.