The ACES study was conducted here in San Diego between 1995-97 and was spearheaded by Vincent Felitti, MD. This study was conducted with 17,000+ participants and clearly demonstrated a link between childhood abuse, neglect and other household challenges with adult health and well-being.
What I want to highlight here is the link with physical health problems, because this was the most surprising finding to many and is often an overlooked consequence of childhood trauma. The more of these adverse childhood experiences one has, the higher the risk of things like cancer, lung disease, stroke and diabetes.
The study asked about experiences of verbal/emotional abuse physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, parental divorce/separation, witnessing domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse in the home, mental illness in the home, or having a member of the household go to prison. You can go on-line and take the quiz yourself if you are interested.
This scale is used widely across many states to collect data on risk factors, and the results remain consistent with the original data. Almost two thirds of adults had at least one ACE and more than one in four reported at least three ACES.
Experiences of ACES are common among all people, but certain populations are more at risk due to social and economic conditions and systemic issues of oppression.
It’s important to note that the adverse experiences screened for is not exhaustive. Just because an experience you’ve had is not on the list, that doesn’t mean it’s not traumatic. This was meant as a teaching tool to help medical providers pay more attention to the role of traumatic experience in their patient’s lives.