Protective factor

Protective factors are conditions or attributes (skills, strengths, resources, supports or coping strategies) in individuals, families, communities or the larger society that help people deal more effectively with stressful events and mitigate or eliminate risk in families and communities.[1][2]

In the field of Preventive Medicine and Health Psychology, Protective Factors refer to any factor that decreases the chances of a negative health outcome occurring. Conversely, a Risk factor will increase the chances of a negative health outcome occurring. Just as statistical correlations and regressions can examine how a range of independent variables impact a dependent variable, we can examine how many Protective and Risk factors contribute to the likelihood of an illness occurring.


Protective factors include:

  • Adoptive parents having an accurate understanding of their adopted children's pre-adoption medical and behavioral problems [3]
  • Assistance of adoption professionals in the home of adopted children [4]

Some risks that adopted children are prone to:[5]

  • Self-mutilation
  • Delinquency
  • Trouble with the law
  • Substance abuse
  • Thievery

See also


  1. A definition of protective factors by a governmental institution for children's welfare
  2. A web page for the prevention of suicide Archived 2012-04-21 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Simmel, C. (2007). Risk and protective factors contributing to the longitudinal psycho-social well-being of adopted foster children. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders,15(4), 237-249.
  4. Reilly, T. & Platz, L. (2004). Post-adoption service needs of families with special needs children : Use, helpfulness, and unmet needs. Journal of Social Service Research 30(4)51-67.
  5. Howe, David. (1997). Parent-reported problems in 211 adopted children : Some risk and protective factors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38(4), 401-411.
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