This article explores adaptive capacity as a framework for understanding how South Australian women in midlife (aged 45–64) demonstrated resilience during the early phases of COVID-19. In-depth interviews were undertaken with 40 women mid-2020 as a follow-up study to interviews with the same women undertaken 2018–19 (before COVID-19 emerged). Transcripts were analysed following a critical realist approach using Grothmann and Patt's construct of adaptive capacity as a framework for analysis. This enabled authors to unpack the mechanisms of resilience that shaped women's experiences of appraising, and then showing an intention to adapt to COVID-19 adversity. Findings support the explanatory utility of adaptive capacity to understand resilience processes in the context of person-environment changes – the environment being the COVID-19 context – and women's capability to adapt to social distancing and lockdown conditions. With COVID-19 evoking health, social and economic challenges at incomparable scales, potentially fracturing mental stability, this article provides insight useful to policy makers and health professionals to support resilience as the pandemic continues.
- Adaptive capacity