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Child Abuse Negl. 2018 Dec;86:45-54. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2018.09.006. Epub 2018 Sep 27.

The effects of adult depression on the recollection of adverse childhood experiences.

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University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary, Alberta, T2N 1N4, Canada. Electronic address:
University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary, Alberta, T2N 1N4, Canada.
Southport Psychology, 10201 Southport Rd SW Suite 830, Calgary, Alberta, T2W 4X9, Canada.


Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have been linked to numerous negative physical and mental health outcomes across the lifespan. As such, self-report questionnaires that assess for ACEs are increasingly used in healthcare settings. However, previous research has generated some concern over the reliability of retrospective reports of childhood adversity, and it has been proposed that symptoms of depression may increase recall of negative memories. To investigate the stability of ACE scores over time and whether they are influenced by symptoms of depression, we recruited 284 participants (M age = 40.96, SD = 16.05) from primary care clinics. Participants completed self-report measures of depression and ACEs twice, three months apart. The test-retest reliability of ACEs was very high (r = .91, p <  .001). A cross-lagged panel analysis indicated that PHQ-9 scores at Time 1 were not predictive of changes in ACE scores at Time 2 (β = 0.00, p = .96). Results of this study indicate that changes in symptoms of depression do not correspond with changes in ACE scores among adults. This study provides support for the stability and reliability of ACE scores over time, regardless of depression status, and suggests that ACE measures are appropriate for use in healthcare settings.


Adverse childhood experiences; Autobiographical memory; Depression; Primary care; Stability; Test-retest reliability

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