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ARTICLE Improving the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study Scale David Finkelhor, PhD; Anne Shattuck, MA; Heather Turner, PhD; Sherry Hamby, PhD Objective: To test and improve upon the list of adverse childhood experiences from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study scale by examining the ability of a broader range to correlate with mental health symptoms. Design: Nationally representative sample of children and adolescents. Setting and Participants: Telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 2030 youth aged 10 to 17 years who were asked about lifetime adversities and current distress symptoms. Main Outcome Measures: Lifetime adversities and participants, but the association was significantly improved (from R2 =0.21 to R2 =0.34) by removing some of the original ACE scale items and adding others in the domains of peer rejection, peer victimization, community violence exposure, school performance, and socioeconomic status. Conclusions: Our understanding of the most harmful childhood adversities is still incomplete because of complex interrelationships among them, but we know enough to proceed to interventional studies to determine whether prevention and remediation can improve long-term outcomes. current distress symptoms. Results: The adversities from the original ACE scale items were associated with mental health symptoms among the JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(1):70-75. Published online November 26, 2012. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.420 T Author Affiliations: Crimes Against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham (Drs Finkelhor and Turner and Ms Shattuck); and Psychology Department, Sewanee, the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee (Dr Hamby). HE A DVERSE C HILDHOOD Experiences (ACE) Study1 has attracted considerable scientific and policy attention in recent years, in part because it suggests that potentially preventable childhood experiences, particularly physical and sexual abuse and neglect, may increase a person’s risk for serious health problems and higher mortality rates much later in life. The study has demonstrated relationships between adverse childhood experiences and many adult health risks.1-10 These results, which have been published widely in the health sciences, are based on a survey and medical records of more than 17 000 members of the Kaiser Health Plan in San Diego, California.1,11 Nonetheless, research using the ACE Study model has some important limitations, in part because of the retrospective way in which data on childhood adversities have been gathered. The average age of respondents when they supplied information about their childhood experiences was 55 to 57 years. As a result, it is hard to be certain, particularly from such JAMA PEDIATR/ VOL 167 (NO. 1), JAN 2013 70 a remote vantage, whether it is these particular childhood experiences or unmeasured covariates that are the most important predictors. In addition, the ACE Study list of preventable childhood adversities omits certain domains judged by many developmental researchers to be important in predicting long-term health and well-being outcomes. Among the predictors missing from the ACE Study model are peer rejection, exposure to violence outside the family, low socioeconomic status, and poor academic performance. For editorial comment see page 95 For example, longitudinal studies show that growing up in poverty increases lifelong risk for various negative life events and negative health outcomes.12-14 Peer rejection and lack of friends are associated with the development of many disorders.15-17 Poor school performance in childhood is associated with poor outcomes in adulthood, such as unemployment.18 Witnessing community violence has been WWW.JAMAPEDS.COM ©2013 American Medical Association. All rights reserved. Downloaded From: http://jamanetwork.com/ by George Morris on 04/20/2016 Author Aff Against Ch Center, Uni Hampshire Finkelhor a Shattuck); Departmen University Sewanee, T Hamby). shown to be a mental health hazard for adults and children.19,20 These major childhood adversities are not currently measured by the ACE scale. In addition, measuring childhood adversities during childhood, rather than later, may offer other improvements to the ACE Study’s early life predictors of health outcomes.21 It allows the possibility of obtaining a more accurate and comprehensive assessment of childhood events than one would be able to obtain after many years. It also would allow a more sensitive untangling of the relationship among various adversities in ways that better explain causal sequences. Although an obvious disadvantage is the inability to assess the long-term effects of childhood adversity on the negative life events and health conditions posited in the ACE Study model, examining more short-term effects in childhood is consistent with the logic of the model. Specifically, the ACE Study model relies strongly on the idea that adverse childhood experiences create a burden of psychological stress that changes behavior, cognitions, emotions, and physical functions in ways that promote subsequent health problems and illness.22 Among the hypothesized pathways, adverse childhood experiences lead to depression and posttraumaticstressdisorder,whichinturncanleadtosubstance abuse, sleep disorders, inactivity, immunosuppression, inflammatory responses, and inconsistent health care use, possibly leading to other medical conditions later in life.23,24 Therefore, childhood behavioral and emotional symptoms verylikelyrepresentacrucialmediatorlinkingadversechildhood experiences and the longer term health-related problems found in the ACE substudies. Thus, in the present study, we tried to replicate the ACE Study findings in a cohort of youth, using psychological distress as an outcome measure, and to explore whether the adversities enumerated by the ACE Study could be improved upon by considering a more comprehensive range of possible adversities, including some of the domains not considered in the ACE Study. maining 1496 of the completed interviews. Sample weights were calculated to adjust for differential probability of selection associated with (1) study design, (2) demographic variations in nonresponse, and (3) variations in within-household eligibility. For this study, we analyzed a subsample of the entire sample of 4549 respondents. This subsample consisted of 2030 youth who were aged 10 to 17 years at the time of the interview and for whom complete data were available on the variables of interest. Analyses in this study are weighted by the sample weights. PROCEDURE A short interview was conducted with an adult caregiver (usually a parent) in each household to obtain family demographic information. One child was randomly selected from all eligible children living in a household by choosing the child with the most recent birthday. If the selected child was aged 10 to 17 years, the main telephone interview was conducted with the child. If the child was younger than 10 years, the interview was completed with the caregiver. However, the current analysis is based only on the 2030 youth aged 10 to 17 years who provided self-report information. Respondents were paid $20 for their participation. The interviews, averaging 45 minutes in both waves, were conducted in either English or Spanish. All procedures were approved by the institutional review board at the University of New Hampshire. RESPONSE RATES AND NONRESPONSE ANALYSES The cooperation rate for the random digit dialing crosssection portion of the survey was 71%, and the response rate was 54%. The cooperation and response rates associated with the smaller oversample were somewhat lower at 63% and 43%, respectively. These are good rates by current survey research standards.26-30 Although the potential for response bias remains an important consideration, several recent studies and our own analysis25 have shown no meaningful association between response rates and response bias.31-34 MEASUREMENT Victimization and Adversity METHODS PARTICIPANTS These analyses use data from the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV),25 a representative sample of US children and adolescents. The NatSCEV was designed to obtain incidence and prevalence estimates for a wide range of childhood victimizations and other adversities. The survey was conducted between January 2008 and May 2008 with a nationally representative sample of 4549 children aged 0 to 17 years living in the contiguous United States. Interviews with parents and youth were conducted over the telephone by the employees of an experienced survey research firm. The foundation of the design was a nationwide sampling frame of residential telephone numbers from which a sample of telephone households was drawn by random digit dialing. This nationally representative cross section yielded 3053 of the 4549 completed interviews. To ensure that the study included a sizable proportion of racial/ethnic minorities and lowincome respondents for more accurate subgroup analyses, there was also an oversampling of US telephone exchanges that had a population of 70% or more of African American, Hispanic, or low-income households. This oversample yielded the re- This survey used an enhanced version of the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire, an inventory of childhood victimization.35-37 The Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire obtains reports on 48 forms of youth victimization covering 5 general areas of interest: conventional crime, maltreatment, victimization by peer and siblings, sexual victimization, and witnessing and exposure to violence.38 The survey also contains questions about adverse life events in the parent interview section and in a separate section on adversity. For the present study, which was not originally designed to test the ACE Study model, we selected victimization and adversity items in 2 steps. First, we used screener items and their associated follow-up questions to construct victimization types that most closely matched the abuse and neglect items in the original ACE Study, and we chose family background and adversity items to match the household dysfunction items of the original ACE Study. Using these items, we constructed a replication of the original ACE Study. In the second step, we selected additional types of victimization and adversity items not included in the original ACE Study but that are known to be important correlates of health and well-being outcomes. The measures selected in these 2 steps are described in the next section of this article. Important differences from the ACE Study items are noted in eTable 1 (http://www.jamapeds.com). JAMA PEDIATR/ VOL 167 (NO. 1), JAN 2013 71 WWW.JAMAPEDS.COM ©2013 American Medical Association. All rights reserved. Downloaded From: http://jamanetwork.com/ by George Morris on 04/20/2016 Measures Used to Replicate Original ACE Study Items The following measures were coded 0 for no and 1 for yes so that they could be summed to create the replicated ACE Study items. All are lifetime measures. v Emotional abuse: One item asked respondents, “At any time in your life, did you get scared or feel really bad because grown-ups in your life called you names, said mean things to you, or said they didn’t want you?” v Physical abuse: Several screeners assessed the child’s experience of physical assault. Children who answered yes to any of these assault screeners were coded as having experienced physical abuse if the incident was perpetrated by parent, an adult relative, or another adult caregiver. v Sexual abuse: Four screeners asked about the child’s experience of sexual assault or attempted rape by a known adult, an adult stranger, or a peer or sibling. v Emotional neglect: Four questions about family social support were used to construct an indicator of emotional neglect. These items are shown in eTable 1. Total scores ranged from 4 to 16. Children whose family support score was 10 or lower were coded as having experienced emotional neglect. v Physical neglect: A single item asked whether the child had ever experienced a time when adults in his or her life “didn’t take care of them the way they should,” including not providing enough food, not taking them to the doctor when they were sick, or not making sure they had a safe place to stay. Children who answered yes were coded as having experienced physical neglect. v Mother treated violently: Twelve screeners asked children whether they had witnessed specific kinds of violence and abuse. Children who answered yes to any of these questions and who reported that their mother was the victim were coded 1 on this item. v Household substance abuse: A single item assessed whether the child had a family member who “drank or used drugs so often that it caused problems.” v Household mental illness: Children who had a parent or sibling with depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, or “other psychiatric disorder” (information obtained from the parent interview) or children who had “someone close” attempt suicide were coded 1 on household mental illness. v Parental separation or divorce: We coded any respondent who was not currently living with 2 biological or adoptive parents as having experienced parental separation or divorce. v Incarcerated household member: One adversity item asks whether a parent or guardian had ever been sent to prison. Additional Victimization and Adversity Items Not Included in ACE Study The measures listed herein, not included in the ACE Study, were examined as additional correlates of children’s distress. A summary of these items is reported in eTable 2. Unless otherwise specified, questions regarding these items were asked in the child’s portion of the interview: v Peer victimization (assault, physical intimidation, or emotional victimization by a nonsibling peer) v Parents always arguing (respondents were asked whether there was a time in their lives when their parents were always arguing) v Property victimization (experience of a robbery, theft, or vandalism by a nonsibling perpetrator) v Someone close to the child had a bad accident or illness v Exposure to community violence (6 screeners asked whether the child had been exposed to certain types of crime and violence, including witnessing an assault, experiencing a household theft, having someone close murdered, witnessing a murder, experiencing a riot, or being in a war zone) v No good friends (child had no “really good friends at school” at the time of the interview) v Below-average grades (parent reported that the child had “below-average” grades in school) v Someone close to the child died because of an accident or illness v Parent lost job (children reported that there was a time when their “mother, father, or guardian lost a job or couldn’t find work”) v Parent deployed to war zone (parent had to leave the country to fight in a war and was gone for several months or longer) v Disaster (child had experienced a “very bad fire, flood, tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or other disaster”) v Removed from family (child was “sent or taken away from his or her family for any reason”) v Very overweight (parent reported that the child was “quite a bit overweight” compared with other boys/girls his or her age) v Physical disability (parent reported that the child had been diagnosed with a “physical health or medical problem that affects the kinds of activities that he or she can do”) v Ever involved in a bad accident v Neighborhood violence is a “big problem” (asked in the parent interview) v Homelessness (a time when the child’s family “had to live on a street or in a shelter because they had no other place to stay”) v Repeated a grade v Less masculine or feminine than other boys or girls his or her age (asked in the parent interview) Distress Symptoms Distress symptoms were measured using shortened versions of the anger, depression, anxiety, dissociation, and posttraumatic stress scales of the Trauma Symptoms Checklist for Children (TSCC).39 Respondents were asked how often they had experienced each symptom within the past month. Response options were on a 4-point scale from 1 (not at all) to 4 (very often), and responses from the items of all 5 scales were summed to create a total distress score consisting of 28 items. The Cronbach ␣ value for total distress score in this study was 0.93. Demographics Demographic information was obtained in the initial parent interview, including the child’s sex, age (in years), race/ ethnicity (coded into 4 groups: white non-Hispanic, black nonHispanic, other non-Hispanic, and Hispanic any race), socioeconomic status (SES), and place size of the child’s town or city of residence. Socioeconomic status is a continuous composite score based on the sum of the standardized household income and standardized parental educational level (for the parent with the highest educational level) scores, which was then restandardized. For our revised version of the ACE scale, we created a dummy indicator for low SES that flags children whose continuous SES value fell in the bottom, roughly 20%. RESULTS The ACE scale constructed with variables from NatSCEV that mimic the original items is associated with distress levels among youth aged 10 to 17 years, as measured by the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children. Model 1 in Table 1 reports the regression of distress scores on JAMA PEDIATR/ VOL 167 (NO. 1), JAN 2013 72 WWW.JAMAPEDS.COM ©2013 American Medical Association. All rights reserved. Downloaded From: http://jamanetwork.com/ by George Morris on 04/20/2016 Table 1. Regression of Wave 1 Trauma Scores on Lifetime Victimization and Adversity Table 2. Items in Original and Revised ACE Scales ACE Scale Adversities (Lifetime) Regression Coefficient, ␤ a Characteristic (n = 2030) Demographics, time 1 b Age, mean, y Male sex Black, non-Hispanic Other, non-Hispanic Hispanic, any race ACE scale items Physical abuse Emotional abuse Emotional neglect Physical neglect Household mental illness Household substance abuse Sexual abuse Mother treated violently Incarcerated household member Parental separation or divorce Additional victimization and adversity items Peer victimization (nonsibling) Parents always arguing Property victimization (nonsibling) Someone close had a bad accident or illness Exposure to community violence No good friends Socioeconomic status Below-average grades Someone close died from illness/accident Parent lost job Parent deployed to war zone Disaster Removed from family Very overweight Physical disability Involved in a bad accident Neighborhood violence is “big problem” Family homeless Repeated a grade Less masculine or feminine than peers Adjusted R 2 % Model 1 Model 2 13.5 51.2 15.1 5.7 17.8 −0.01 −0.03 0.01 −0.05 d −0.02 −0.03 −0.08 c 0.03 −0.05 e −0.03 14.9 17.7 7.7 4.0 27.9 16.8 6.6 13.1 11.1 41.2 0.16 c 0.13 c 0.16 c 0.08 c 0.12 c 0.12 c 0.09 c 0.07 c 0.08 c 0.04 e 0.08 c 0.01 0.08 c 0.05 d 0.05 e −0.02 0.02 −0.01 −0.01 −0.05 e 47.6 22.0 41.0 64.4 0.17 c 0.15 c 0.11 c 0.10 c 63.4 1.8 0.04 6.1 49.3 0.09 c 0.07 c −0.06 d 0.04 e 0.05 e 19.5 9.9 10.9 4.8 3.0 6.9 13.8 4.3 3.2 13.2 8.7 0.04 e 0.04 0.03 0.03 0.02 −0.01 −0.02 −0.02 −0.02 −0.03 −0.03 0.36 0.24 Abbreviation: ACE, Adverse Childhood Experiences. a Change in adjusted R 2 was significant at P ⬍ .001. b Reference category for race/ethnicity is white, non-Hispanic (61.4 % of sample). c Coefficient is significant at P ⬍ .001. d Coefficient is significant at P ⬍ .01. e Coefficient is significant at P ⬍ .05. the items from the replicated ACE scale. The cumulative items were strongly associated with distress, and there was a clear dose-response relationship between the adversities and distress, as has been demonstrated in previous research.1 However, the original ACE scale items did not each make an independent contribution to distress as illustrated in model 1 of Table 1. Two items, parental separation or divorce and incarceration of a household member, were not significant in the regression model of the whole scale. In addition, when other childhood adversi- Original Emotional abuse Physical abuse Sexual abuse Physical neglect Emotional neglect Mother treated violently Household substance abuse Household mental illness Incarcerated household member Parental separation or divorce Emotional abuse Physical abuse Sexual abuse Physical neglect Emotional neglect Household mental illness Property victimization (nonsibling) Peer victimization (nonsibling) Exposure to community violence Socioeconomic status Someone close had a bad accident or illness Below-average grades Parents always arguing No good friends (at time of interview) Abbreviation: ACE, Adverse Childhood Experiences. ties (not considered in the ACE studies) were added to the model (model 2 of Table 1), several ACE scale items dropped below significance. Moreover, several of the added childhood adversities showed strong associations with distress. These included peer victimization, property victimization, parents always arguing, having no good friends, having someone close with a bad illness or accident, SES, and exposure to community violence. A revised ACE scale was then constructed, removing the original items that were no longer significant in the extended model. Significant new items were added to the scale, including parents always arguing, having no good friends, having someone close with a bad illness or accident, peer victimization, property victimization, and exposure to community violence. The old and new scales are contrasted in Table 2. Regression with the new scale determined R2 = 0.34 vs R2 = 0.21 for the original version of the scale. COMMENT In this study, it was possible to improve the value of the original ACE scale considerably by adding some childhood adversities not included in the original scale and excluding others that were in the scale. The value of adding several items not considered in the ACE studies is consistent with several publications showing their harmful effect on child development. In fact, there are likely even more domains of childhood adversity that might be measured and added that could further improve its predictive ability, for example, low IQ,40 parental death, and food scarcity. The present study illustrates that the original ACE scale could likely be improved even more with additional developmental research. However, this analysis also confirms that some of the key ACE scale items, particularly the child maltreatment exposures, remain very important and make discrete independent contributions, even when many other adversities are considered. Moreover, several of the new JAMA PEDIATR/ VOL 167 (NO. 1), JAN 2013 73 WWW.JAMAPEDS.COM ©2013 American Medical Association. All rights reserved. Downloaded From: http://jamanetwork.com/ by George Morris on 04/20/2016 Revised adversities identified in this study are additional forms of interpersonal victimization—property crime, peer victimization, and exposure to community violence— which reinforce findings from other studies41,42 highlighting the cumulative harm of different forms of childhood victimization. There are several limitations of the current study that bear emphasis. First, this study did not operationalize the adverse childhood events in the same way that the original ACE instrument did. Second, the dependent variable, the TSCC, used in this exercise was not an outcome used in the original ACE Study. The TSCC may be better associated with the impact of some childhood events, such as violence exposure, than others and may not necessarily be reflective of what would best predict long-term health effects. In fact, some childhood adversities may affect later health not through psychological processes, such as distress symptoms, but through other mechanisms, for example, failure to receive proper early health care. Moreover, unlike the ACE Study, the outcome measure was short term and the causal sequence between adversities and outcome cannot be assumed. All the variables in this study come from self-report and, in most cases, from children, which may be inaccurate and introduce method associations. Before additional work on the ACE scale is undertaken, some important issues are worth discussing, even beyond the findings of the current study. One issue concerns what the goal or best use of this or related scales should be. One possible use for this kind of scale is as a risk assessment tool with older adolescents or adults to help health care providers better understand who is most likely to require services and treatment for health problems. However, the goal for which the scale has been most widely used to date is to advocate for and influence prevention policies by highlighting crucial developmental factors that prevention programs should target to improve general health and reduce medical costs and social service expenditures.22,43,44 In many ways the first goal, risk assessment, is a much easier one to accomplish than the second, selection of prevention targets. To successfully satisfy the first goal, research has to find strong associations between risk indicators and later outcomes. The ACE scale seems clearly successful at this. For the second goal, however, a good risk indicator is not sufficient. The indicator has to be a proven causal contributor, which modified would make a difference. Much of the discussion about the ACE scale assumes that its items are causal contributors to the numerous negative adult outcomes, but this may not be the case. Without detailed longitudinal studies and the measurement of many additional variables, it may be very difficult to tease out whether, for example, it is household substance abuse that affects later outcomes or some unmeasured underlying parental emotional problem or lack of self-control. Moreover, a very important, but difficult to test, alternative explanation for many of the ACE Study findings is that inherited genes for health problems or some temperamental qualities create a spurious connection between abuse and neglect by parents or other family context variables and mental and physical health conditions in their offspring. If this were to be the case, it is possible, although not likely, that even preventing child abuse would make modest differences on health outcomes. There are other problems with using an ACE scale even as a long-term risk assessment tool. One is that risk assessment has to factor in social changes regarding the frequency, norms, and impact of different experiences. For older respondents who answered the original ACE Study questionnaire, parental divorce may have been an unusual and stigmatizing event and sexual abuse a hidden experience that one never talked or heard anything about. Among a younger cohort, more cultural awareness and the increased availability of support, including professional intervention, may mean that the experience of sexual abuse or parental divorce might have different consequences. This may be why parental divorce was not a significant predictor in the current study. Another problem is the possibility of reverse causation in which bad later life outcomes induce reports of more negative early childhood experiences. There is some evidence that people recall more negative historical adversity when they have poor adult outcomes, mental health, and physical problems.45 To the degree that this is true, variables identified in later life, such as in the ACE Study, will not prove as predictive of ultimate health outcomes when assessed in earlier life stages. An additional philosophical problem worth considering in discussions about the implications of ACE-type research is whether advocates should use a list of childhood features that are associated with long-term health effects as the primary criterion of what childhood adversities to prioritize for prevention. For example, if sexual abuse were demonstrated to be minimally associated with long-term health effects, would that disqualify it as a priority for primary prevention? No. Many childhood adversities are candidates for prevention not because they create long-term health risks but because they violate the rights of children or cause pain and suffering at the moment. Their contributions to long-term health can be additional evidence to consider but may not be primary. Such adversities illustrate the tension between a utilitarian and human rights perspective in child welfare policy. CONCLUSIONS This research suggests that the goal of identifying childhood adversities that are precursors to long-term health and behavioral outcomes may be improved by considering a wider range of adversities measured in a more contemporaneous way. Such an approach might be well advanced by using longitudinal studies that have been monitoring children into adulthood.12 However, more discussion is needed about the goals and usefulness of such efforts. Although additional efforts to refine an adverse childhood experience checklist that predicts later health outcomes has scientific merit, an argument can be made that enough is known about certain harmful childhood experiences22 that more testing of parts of this model should be carried out through experiment rather than correlation. There is enough consensus that exposure to violence, sexual abuse, and emotional mistreatment are harmful and likely have long- JAMA PEDIATR/ VOL 167 (NO. 1), JAN 2013 74 WWW.JAMAPEDS.COM ©2013 American Medical Association. All rights reserved. Downloaded From: http://jamanetwork.com/ by George Morris on 04/20/2016 term health effects; therefore, the next generation of studies should probably focus on preventing and remediating these exposures and following up to determine whether health outcomes improve. Accepted for Publication: June 7, 2012. Published Online: November 26, 2012. doi:10.1001 /jamapediatrics.2013.420 Correspondence: David Finkelhor, PhD, Crimes Against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire, 126 Horton Social Science Center, 20 Academic Way, Durham, NH 03824 (david.finkelhor@unh.edu). Author Contributions: Study concept and design: Finkelhor, Turner, and Hamby. Analysis and interpretation of data: Finkelhor, Shattuck, Turner, and Hamby. Drafting of the manuscript: Finkelhor and Shattuck. Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: Finkelhor, Turner, and Hamby. Statistical analysis: Shattuck. Obtained funding: Finkelhor and Turner. Administrative, technical, and material support: Finkelhor and Turner. Study supervision: Finkelhor. Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported. Online-Only Material: The eTables are available at http: //www.jamapeds.com. REFERENCES 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 1. Felitti VJ, Anda RF, Nordenberg D, et al. 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Witnessing community violence in residential neighborhoods: a mental health hazard for urban women. J Urban Health. 2008;85(1):22-38. Council on Children and Families. Adverse childhood experiences among New York’s adults. 2010. http://ccf.ny.gov/KidsCount/kcResources/ACE_BriefTwo .pdf. Accessed February 3, 2012. Schilling EA, Aseltine RH Jr, Gore S. Adverse childhood experiences and mental health in young adults: a longitudinal survey. BMC Public Health. 2007;7:30. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-30. Shonkoff JP, Boyce WT, McEwen BS. Neuroscience, molecular biology, and the childhood roots of health disparities: building a new framework for health promotion and disease prevention. JAMA. 2009;301(21):2252-2259. Kendall-Tackett K. The health effects of childhood abuse: four pathways by which abuse can influence health. Child Abuse Negl. 2002;26(6-7):715-729. Kendall-Tackett K. Psychological trauma and physical health: a psychoneuroimmunology approach to etiology of negative health effects and possible interventions. Psychol Trauma. 2009;1(1):35-48. doi:10.1037/a0015128. Finkelhor D, Hamby SL, Ormrod RK, Turner HA. Violence, abuse, and crime exposure in a national sample of children and youth. Pediatrics. 2009;124(5):1-14. Keeter S, Kennedy C, Dimock M, Best J, Craighill P. Gauging the impact of growing nonresponse on estimates from a national RDD telephone survey. Public Opin Q. 2006;70:759-779. doi:10.1093/poq/nfl035. Babbie E. The Practice of Social Research. 11th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth; 2007. Atrostic BK, Bates N, Burt G, Silberstein A. Nonresponse in US government household surveys: consistent measures, recent trends, and new insights. J Off Stat. 2001;17(2):209-226. Curtin R, Presser S, Singer E. Changes in telephone survey nonresponse over the past quarter century. Public Opin Q. 2005;69:87-98. doi:10.1093/poq/nfi002. Singer E. Introduction: nonresponse bias in household surveys. Public Opin Q. 2006;70:637-645. doi:10.1093/poq/nfl034. Curtin R, Presser S, Singer E. The effects of response rate changes on the index of consumer sentiment. Public Opin Q. 2000;64(4):413-428. Keeter S, Miller C, Kohut A, Groves RM, Presser S. Consequences of reducing nonresponse in a national telephone survey. Public Opin Q. 2000;64(2):125-148. Groves RM. Nonresponse rates and nonresponse bias in household surveys. Public Opin Q. 2006;70:646-675. doi:10.1093/poq/nfl033. Merkle D, Edelman M. Nonresponse in exit polls: a comprehensive analysis. In: Groves RM, Dillman DA, Eltinge JL, Little RJA, eds. Survey Nonresponse. New York, NY: John Wiley & Son Inc; 2002:343-358. Finkelhor D, Hamby SL, Ormrod RK, Turner HA. The Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire: reliability, validity, and national norms. Child Abuse Negl. 2005;29 (4):383-412. Hamby SL, Finkelhor D, Ormrod RK, Turner HA. The Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire ( JVQ): Administration and Scoring Manual. Durham, NH: Crimes Against Children Research Center; 2004. Finkelhor D, Ormrod RK, Turner HA, Hamby SL. Measuring poly-victimization using the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire. Child Abuse Negl. 2005;29(11): 1297-1312. Finkelhor D, Ormrod RK, Turner HA, Hamby SL. The victimization of children and youth: a comprehensive, national survey. Child Maltreat. 2005;10(1):5-25. Briere J. Trauma Symptoms Checklist for Children (TSCC): Professional Manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources; 1996. Martin LT, Fitzmaurice GM, Kindlon DJ, Buka SL. Cognitive performance in childhood and early adult illness: a prospective cohort study. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2004;58(8):674-679. Finkelhor D, Ormrod RK, Turner HA. Poly-victimization: a neglected component in child victimization. Child Abuse Negl. 2007;31(1):7-26. Turner HA, Finkelhor D, Ormrod R. Poly-victimization in a national sample of children and youth. Am J Prev Med. 2010;38(3):323-330. Family Policy Council. ACE’s (Adverse Childhood Experiences). http://www.fpc .wa.gov/publications.html#ACEs. Accessed February 28, 2012. World Health Organization. Addressing adverse childhood experiences to improve public health: expert consultation. http://www.who.int/violence_injury _prevention/violence/activities/adverse_childhood_experiences/global_research _network_may_2009.pdf. 2009. Accessed February 3, 2012. Hardt J, Rutter M. Validity of adult retrospective reports of adverse childhood experiences: review of the evidence. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2004;45(2): 260-273. WWW.JAMAPEDS.COM ©2013 American Medical Association. All rights reserved. Downloaded From: http://jamanetwork.com/ by George Morris on 04/20/2016 EDITORIAL Adverse Childhood Experiences and Lifelong Health I N MORE THAN 60 ARTICLES SINCE 1998, INTERnist Vincent Felitti, MD, pediatrician Robert Anda, MD, MS, and others have studied the relationship of childhood adversity and a variety of lifelong physical and emotional outcomes.1,2 Using a retrospective study design, they surveyed 17 337 adult health maintenance organization members (average age, 57 years) about crucial events during childhood and linked those events in a dose-response manner with cardiovascular disease; cancer; AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases; unwanted, often-highrisk pregnancies; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; and a legacy of self-perpetuating child abuse. While it is hard to believe, many medical and child welfare professionals did not see the links among child abuse and other common social problems with poor health and premature death in adulthood.3 See also page 70 These 8 adverse childhood experiences (or ACEs), as they have come to be called, include exposure of a child before age 18 years to emotional abuse, physical abuse, contact sexual abuse, alcohol/substance abuse, mental illness, criminal behavior, parental separation/divorce, and domestic violence. While there have been questions about the validity of the study design, studies using ACEs have moved to less affluent samples to fit within an accepted universal ecobiodevelopmental framework for understanding health promotion and disease prevention across the lifespan and are supported by recent additional advances in neuroscience, molecular biology, and the social sciences.3-9 In this issue, Finkelhor et al10 seek to improve on this conceptual model and strengthen our understanding of the relationship between childhood adversity and lifelong health. Using data from telephone interviews in 2008 combined with a nationally representative sample of 2020 US children in a study not designed to measure the ACEs (the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence10), the authors obtained incidence and prevalence estimates for a wide range of childhood victimizations and other adversities. They performed a secondary analysis that reconstructed the traditional ACE items and found that the current ACEs do predict current stress among adolescents in a dose-related fashion. Adolescent stress is thought to be a crucial mediator linking ACEs with longer-term health problems and illness and is a likely predictor of long-term negative life events.11 The authors then posit that there are problems methodologically with the retrospective nature of the current ACEs, which also miss things we know are problems associated with adult adversity, such as poor peer relationships, poor school performance, poverty, and unemployment. They then add additional variables to the original ACEs to see what contributes more to psychological distress, choosing new items that have been suggested by relationships of child maltreatment with childhood stress in current research. These additional adverse experiences include having parents who always argue, being friendless, having someone close with a bad illness or serious injury, peer victimization, property victimization, and exposure to community violence. In their models, the authors found that the prediction of current childhood stress was significantly improved by removing some of the original ACEs and adding others in these domains. While this is encouraging, they conclude that “our understanding of the most toxic adversities is still incomplete because of complex interrelationships among them.”10 While there is no doubt that childhood adversity causes and/or contributes to adult adversity, the results of the study by Finkelhor et al10 do help us to better understand toxic stress during childhood and potential critical situations in which we can intervene as families, communities, and a society. Using a study design with more predictive ACEs that measure adversity during childhood will minimize memory error and bias to achieve a more accurate and comprehensive assessment of childhood events. We will then be able to better identify children and families at risk before there is childhood stress or other measurable harm. Finkelhor et al10 are correct to say that we know enough to move to intervention and prevention. The seemingly large costs of child abuse and neglect ($80 billion in the US in 201212) pale in comparison with the economic and human burden of adult poor health and premature death. Some have said “Fight Crime, Invest in Kids,”13 and our response needs to include more than reactionary child welfare and criminal justice responses. Why do we not offer counseling to all children with psychological maltreatment or exposure to domestic violence?14-17 We need to connect the dots in childhood and adolescent trauma to improve the response of all the first responders (including physicians), publicize that these experiences have JAMA PEDIATR/ VOL 167 (NO. 1), JAN 2013 95 WWW.JAMAPEDS.COM ©2013 American Medical Association. All rights reserved. Downloaded From: http://jamanetwork.com/ by George Morris on 04/20/2016 downstream poor medical and mental health outcomes, optimize and expand the treatments we know work, and increase public support for these interventions.18 More immediately, we should be appalled if future health care reform does not include universal home visiting for newborns and their families because this has been clearly shown to improve numerous child health and developmental outcomes. As pediatricians, we have unique roles in preventing the adverse consequences of toxic stress using routine anticipatory guidance that strengthens family social supports, encourages positive parenting techniques, and facilitates a child’s social, emotional, and language skills. We should start in our medical home with identification and intervention and then move out of the office and into homes, schools, and the community while advocating for a growing number of evidence-based programs. The American Academy of Pediatrics19 has recommended that we (1) adopt the ecobiodevelopmental framework, (2) incorporate the growing scientific knowledge linking childhood adversity with lifelong health effects into pediatric training, (3) be more proactive in educating parents and other child welfare professionals about the long-term consequences of childhood stress, (4) be vocal advocates for the development and implementation of evidence-based interventions that reduce toxic stress or mitigate its effects, and (5) have our medical homes strengthen anticipatory guidance and screening for children and families at risk, with development of innovative service-provision adaptations and local resources to address the risks of toxic stress. We can use the ACEs to identify children and families now who will suffer later if we fail to act. We need to act now as physicians, professionals, and community leaders to reduce childhood adversity and promote lifelong health. Vincent J. Palusci, MD, MS Published Online: November 26, 2012. doi:10.1001 /jamapediatrics.2013.427 Author Affiliations: New York University School of Medicine, Frances L. Loeb Child Protection and Development Center, Bellevue Hospital, New York, New York. Correspondence: Dr Palusci, New York University School of Medicine, Frances L. Loeb Child Protection and Development Center, Bellevue Hospital, 462 First Ave, Room GC65, New York, NY 10016 (Vincent.palusci@nyumc.org). Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported. REFERENCES 1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study: major findings by publication year. http://www.cdc.gov/ace/year.htm. Accessed June 15, 2012. 2. Felitti VJ, Anda RF, Nordenberg D, et al. Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. Am J Prev Med. 1998;14(4):245-258. 3. Weiss MJS, Wagner SH. What explains the negative consequences of adverse childhood experiences on adult health? insights from cognitive and neuroscience research. Am J Prev Med. 1998;14(4):356-360. 4. Dube SR, Williamson DF, Thompson T, Felitti VJ, Anda RF. Assessing the reliability of retrospective reports of adverse childhood experiences among adult HMO members attending a primary care clinic. Child Abuse Negl. 2004;28(7):729-737. 5. Anda RF, Felitti VJ, Bremner JD, et al. The enduring effects of abuse and related adverse experiences in childhood: a convergence of evidence from neurobiology and epidemiology. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2006;256(3):174-186. 6. Flaherty EG, Thompson R, Litrownik AJ, et al. Effect of early childhood adversity on child health. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006;160(12):1232-1238. 7. Ramiro LS, Madrid BJ, Brown DW. Adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and health-risk behaviors among adults in a developing country setting. Child Abuse Negl. 2010;34(11):842-855. 8. Shonkoff JP, Garner AS; Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health; Committee on Early Childhood, Adoption, and Dependent Care; Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. The lifelong effects of early childhood adversity and toxic stress. Pediatrics. 2012;129(1):e232-e246. 9. Shonkoff JP, Richter L, van der Gaag J, Bhutta ZA. An integrated framework for child survival and early childhood development. Pediatrics. 2012;129(2):e460-e472. 10. Finkelhor D, Shattuck A, Turner H, Hamby S. Improving the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study Scale [published online November 26, 2012]. JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(1):70-75. 11. Middlebrooks JS, Audage NC. The Effects of Childhood Stress on Health Across the Lifespan. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; 2008. 12. Gelles RJ, Perlman S. Estimated Annual Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect. Chicago, IL: Prevent Child Abuse America; 2012. 13. Fight Crime. Invest in Kids. http://www.fightcrime.org/. Accessed June 15, 2012. 14. Cohen JA, Mannarino AP, Iyengar S. Community treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder for children exposed to intimate partner violence: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011;165(1):16-21. 15. Layne CM. Developing interventions for trauma-exposed children: a comment on progress to date, and 3 recommendations for further advancing the field. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011;165(1):89-90. 16. Palusci VJ, Ondersma SJ. Services and recurrence after psychological maltreatment confirmed by child protective services. Child Maltreat. 2012;17(2):153-163. 17. Perrin EC, Sheldrick RC. The challenge of mental health care in pediatrics. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(3):287-288. 18. Asnes AG, Leventhal JM. Connecting the dots in childhood and adolescent trauma. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011;165(1):87-89. 19. Garner AS, Shonkoff JP; the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health; Committee on Early Childhood, Adoption, and Dependent Care; Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. Early childhood adversity, toxic stress, and the role of the pediatrician: translating developmental science into lifelong health. Pediatrics. 2012;129 (1):e224-e231 http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/1/e224. Accessed June 15, 2012. JAMA PEDIATR/ VOL 167 (NO. 1), JAN 2013 96 WWW.JAMAPEDS.COM ©2013 American Medical Association. All rights reserved. Downloaded From: http://jamanetwork.com/ by George Morris on 04/20/2016 Case Study Four Case Study four is about the effects of environment, and its stresses, on the future health of the public. I have attached the commentary by Dr Palusci and his referenced article for this purpose: #1 Define ACEs. #2 What 8 experiences are included in ACEs? #3 What new adverse experiences did Finkelhor add to previous scales? #4 What is the cost of childhood abuse and neglect annually in America? #5 What changes does the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend to address toxic stress? Is our health a matter of how well we are raised?
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Case Study Four
#1 Define ACEs.
Adverse Childhood Experience Is defined as the case of exposing children before attaining
the age of eighteen years old to domestic violence, parental divorce or separation, criminal behavior,
mental illness, alcohol or substance abuse, unprotected sexual abuse, physical abuse, and emotional
abuse.
#2 What 8 experiences are included in ACEs?
Based on the research there eight experiences that are Included in Adverse Childhood
Experience. First, children are exposed to physical abuses which are referred to as the intentional
act of causing trauma or Injuries to the children through bodily contact. Second, is the case of child
molestation or child sexual abuses which Is described as form in which older adolescent and adult
uses children to satisfy their sexual desire. Third, when c...


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