Date of Award

5-6-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Laura Knouse

Abstract

Introduction: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are associated with several negative physical and mental health outcomes in adulthood (Felitti et al., 1998). However, a criticism of the ACEs measure is that it does not account for the duration of these events (McLennan et al., 2020). Thus, I aim to replicate previous ACE findings and determine whether an ACEs measure accounting for duration is a better predictor of mental health outcomes. Methods: 244 adult participants reported on their ACEs with duration and their mental and physical health. Three ACE scales were formulated: the traditional ACEs scale, and two duration-based scales, ACEs Years Total and Years with Trauma. Results: The traditional ACEs measure was significantly associated with all of the tested mental and physical health outcomes, while most duration-accounting measures did not reach significance. A test of difference between two dependent correlations revealed that the traditional ACEs measure is a better predictor of all mental health outcomes than the duration-accounting measures (p < .05). An exploratory analysis of those with non-zero amounts of ACEs revealed that more ACEs duration was associated with less negative mental health symptoms, the opposite pattern than expected. Conclusion: Associations between ACEs traditional and the mental and physical health outcomes is consistent with previous literature. This work provides evidence that the traditional ACEs scale is more effective at predicting outcomes than measures that account for duration, which may be due to validity problems in duration measures. Future research should aim to further evaluate the role of duration in ACEs.

Available for download on Tuesday, June 14, 2022

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