Many older adults experience a major stressor at some point in their lives. The ability to recover well after a major stressor is known as resilience. An important goal of geriatric research is to identify factors that influence resilience to stressors. Studies of resilience in older adults are typically conducted with a single-arm where everyone experiences the stressor. The simplistic approach of regressing change versus baseline yields biased estimates due to mathematical coupling and regression to the mean (RTM). We develop a method to correct the bias. We extend the method to include covariates. Our approach considers a counterfactual control group and involves sensitivity analyses to evaluate different settings of control group parameters. Only minimal distributional assumptions are required. Simulation studies demonstrate the validity of the method. We illustrate the method using a large, registry of older adults (N  =7239) who underwent total knee replacement (TKR). We demonstrate how external data can be utilized to constrain the sensitivity analysis. Naive analyses implicated several treatment effect modifiers including baseline function, age, body-mass index (BMI), gender, number of comorbidities, income, and race. Corrected analysis revealed that baseline (pre-stressor) function was not strongly linked to recovery after TKR and among the covariates, only age and number of comorbidities were consistently and negatively associated with post-stressor recovery in all functional domains. Correction of mathematical coupling and RTM is necessary for drawing valid inferences regarding the effect of covariates and baseline status on pre–post change. Our method provides a simple estimator to this end.

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