An Analysis of the Concept of Hardiness


  • Elizabeth Lindsey
  • Marcia Hills


Nurses who are concerned with health promotion, disease prevention and restoration of health must be aware of how different individuals vary in their responses to stressors or stressful life situations. The hardiness characteristic (Kobasa, 1979) has been identified as a moderating and mediating variable in the stress-illness response, and as such, it has potential significance for nursing. The concept of hardiness, as a personality characteristic, has generated considerable interest and research in psychology; however, it is a relatively new perspective for nursing that is of particular interest for health promotion and disease prevention (Bigbee, 1985). Although the concept of hardiness has been discussed and examined for over a decade (Kobasa, 1979; Kobasa, Maddi & Courington, 1981; Nowack, 1989), it has not been clearly defined for nursing. If nurses have a better understanding of the concept of hardiness, then patients with hardy or less hardy personalities could be differentially diagnosed. As well, nursing interventions could then be initiated and tested to ascertain whether strategies to promote hardiness would contribute to the reduction of illness from stressful life events. The basis of any theory depends on the identification and explication of the concepts contained within it. Concept analysis is a strategy that allows for a formal and vigorous examination of the attributes or characteristics of a particular concept. This analysis of the concept of hardiness will follow the specific steps proposed by Wilson (1969, cited in Walker & Avant, 1988).