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Sociol Q. 2015 Sep;56(4):723-752. Epub 2015 Jul 3.

Long Term Physical Health Consequences of Adverse Childhood Experiences.

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Assistant Professor of Rural Sociology, Demography and Sociology, Research Associate, Population Research Institute, The Pennsylvania State University.
PhD Student in Rural Sociology and Demography, The Pennsylvania State University.


This study examined associations between adverse childhood family experiences and adult physical health using data from 52,250 US adults aged 18-64 from the 2009-2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). We found that experiencing childhood physical, verbal, or sexual abuse, witnessing parental domestic violence, experiencing parental divorce, and living with someone who was depressed, abused drugs or alcohol, or who had been incarcerated were associated with one or more of the following health outcomes: self-rated health, functional limitations, diabetes, and heart attack. Adult socioeconomic status and poor mental health and health behaviors significantly mediated several of these associations. The results of this study highlight the importance of family-based adverse childhood experiences on adult health outcomes and suggest that adult SES and stress-related coping behaviors may be crucial links between trauma in the childhood home and adult health.

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