This article is the third in a series exploring how research into adverse childhood experiences – or ACEs – is helping researchers, therapists, parents, educators and the medical community better understand the lasting effects of trauma on mental health:
Prevention is the mantra of modern medicine and public health. Benjamin Franklin said it himself: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Unfortunately, childhood adversities such as abuse and neglect cannot be prevented by vaccinations. As we now know, a large proportion of adults go through adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and can exhibit symptoms such as substance abuse. The symptoms seen in adults can
However, we can limit the impact of ACEs on future generations by taking a close look at what we are doing today – not only for our
The ACE Study, launched in the 1990s, offered a groundbreaking look at how childhood trauma can impact health decades later.
More than two-thirds of the 17,000-plus adults in our study reported at least one ACE, such as divorce, neglect or domestic violence in the household. These adults were at a greater risk for numerous negative health and behavioral outcomes.
When I present this research, I often get questions about the adult survivors. What has helped these adults survive to tell their childhood histories?
The ACE Study was not conceptualized to examine resilience. But I had always been curious about what helped these trauma survivors thrive. I wanted to understand not only what led to their ill health later in life, but what led some of them to report positive health, despite their backgrounds.
In 2013, my colleagues and I published a study examining approximately 5,000 adults from the original ACE study who reported at least one childhood adversity. We focused on strategies that have been proven to promote good health – such as exercise, abstaining from smoking, access to emotional support and completing education at the high school level or higher.
Indeed, each of the factors listed was associated with reports of excellent, very good or good health among adult survivors. Depending on the factor, there was a 30 to 80 percent increased
What’s more, the greater number of health-promoting activities a person participated in, the better their well-being seemed to be. Adult survivors with at least two factors were 1.5 times more likely to report good to excellent health. Those who reported all four factors were 4.3 times more likely to report good to excellent health, compared to those who engaged in none or one, even after considering their chronic conditions.
Read the full article on TheConversation.com.