Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Richard Rothenberg, M.D.

Second Advisor

Daniel Whitaker, Ph.D.


INTRODUCTION: Approximately two-thirds of the U.S. population have had at least one adverse childhood experience (CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences [ACE] Study, 2009). Some consequences of ACEs are manifested as the child grows into late teenage years and young adulthood. Research suggests that children exposed to traumatic events during childhood subsequently experience negative health outcomes like substance abuse, engagement in risky and harmful sexual behavior, and STD occurrence.

AIM: In this thesis I explore the associations of 18 year olds’ described use of alcohol, risky sexual behavior and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) with childhood exposure to caregiver substance abuse, violence and family circumstances

METHODS: Data were obtained from the Longitudinal Studies of Childhood Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN) Assessments 0 - 18 from the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN). Variables on adverse childhood experiences, sex behaviors, STDs and substance use were observed in SAS. Multiple logistic regression models were used to identify odds ratios and strength of associations.

RESULTS: Results suggests significant associations among participants who were exposed to parent/caregiver use of illicit drugs during participant’s childhood and subsequent self-reported heavy alcohol use 1.60 (95% CI: 1.18, 2.22), having early sexual initiation (at age 13 or younger) 1.60 (95% CI: 1.18, 2.22), having 6 or more sexual partners 1.36 (95% CI: 1.09, 1.68) and having STDs 1.83 (95% CI: 1.36, 2.46). Eighteen year olds with who were African American, were at a greater odds of having greater than 6 sexual partners, having sexual intercourse at or before age 13 and having (an) STD(s). No significant associations were found between having a parent/caregiver or member of household who was incarcerated, being exposed to violence, being exposed to yelling often or parental often use of alcohol and subsequent alcohol abuse, having greater than 6 sexual partners, having sexual intercourse at or before age 13 and having (an) STD(s) .

DISCUSSION: Based on the findings of these analyses, programs for adolescents should focus time and resources on young children who may be currently experiencing, or at risk for experiencing, parental/ caregiver illicit drug use in the home.