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Prev Med Rep. 2016 Nov 25;5:127-133. eCollection 2017 Mar.

Social and emotional support as a protective factor against current depression among individuals with adverse childhood experiences.

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Department of Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences, and Epidemiology, College of Public Health, Kent State University, Kent, OH, United States.


Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders among adults with adverse childhood experiences (ACE). Several studies have well documented the protective role of social support against depression in other populations. However, the impact of perceived social and emotional support (PSES) on current depression in a large community sample of adults with ACE has not been studied yet. This study tests the hypothesis that PSES is a protective factor against current depression among adults with ACE. Data from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) involving adults with at least one ACE were used for the purpose of this study (n = 12.487). PSES had three categories: Always, Usually/Sometimes, and Rarely/Never. Current depression, defined based on the responses to the eight-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-8) depression scale, was treated as a binary outcome of interest: Present or absent. Logistic regression models were used for the analysis adjusting for all potential confounders. When compared to individuals who reported that they rarely/never received social and emotional support, individuals who reported that they always received were 87% less likely to report current depression (AOR: 0.13 [95% CI: 0.08-0.21]); and those who reported that they usually/sometimes received social and emotional support were 69% less likely to report current depression (AOR: 0.31 [95% CI: 0.20-0.46]). The results of this study highlight the importance of social and emotional support as a protective factor against depression in individuals with ACE. Health care providers should routinely screen for ACE to be able to facilitate the necessary social and emotional support.


ACE; Adverse childhood experiences; BRFSS; Current depression; Perceived social and emotional support

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