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Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study – SCS Online Reflection Tool

What is this study about?

The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente (a Health Maintenance Organisation – HMO) facilitated one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and the links to later-life health and wellbeing in the world. This is called the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study.

The original ACE Study was conducted from 1995 to 1997 with two waves of data collection. Over 17,000 HMO members from Southern California receiving physical exams completed confidential surveys regarding their childhood experiences and current health status and behaviours. They simply ticked yes or no relating to 10 set questions about experiences from their childhood.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is the term given to describe all types of abuse, neglect, and other traumatic experiences that occur to individuals under the age of 18.

This study, its sample and its findings have been critically reviewed and repeated throughout the world many times over, with the data outcomes echoing the same findings.

What are the findings of the study?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are common. Almost two-thirds of study participants reported at least one ACE, and more than one in five reported three or more ACEs.

The ACE score, a total sum of the different categories of ACEs reported by participants, is used to assess cumulative childhood stress. Study findings repeatedly reveal a graded dose-response relationship between ACEs and negative health and well-being outcomes across the life course…simply put, the higher your ACEs score, the higher the likelihood of you having negative physical and mental health, and negative social outcomes, in later-life.

As the number of ACEs increases so does the risk for the following:

  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

  • DepressionFoetal death/miscarriage

  • Health-related quality of life

  • Illicit drug use

  • Ischemic heart disease

  • Liver disease

  • Poor work performance

  • Financial stress

  • Smoking and/or early initiation of smoking

  • Suicide attempts

  • Unintended pregnancies

  • Risk for sexual violence

  • Poor academic achievement

  • Intimate partner violence (domestic and family violence)

  • Multiple sexual partners & sexually transmitted diseases

  • Adolescent pregnancy & early initiation of sexual activity

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