Date of Award

Summer 8-13-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

First Advisor

Dr. Harry J. Heiman

Second Advisor

Dr. Reynolds Morrison

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Beginning with the original Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, there has been increasing understanding and appreciation for the powerful relationship between traumatic experiences during childhood and subsequent health and life outcomes. Nearly half of all adults in the United States have experienced at least one adverse experience during childhood. The exposure to ACEs, traumatic events occurring prior to age 18, has been linked to chronic health conditions as well as social, emotional, physical, and cognitive problems.

AIM: The purpose of this thesis was to examine the relationship between ACE exposure and chronic disease outcomes, specifically heart disease, asthma, and depression.

METHODS: Logistic regression was used to assess the association between specific chronic disease outcomes and ACE exposure using secondary data from the 2016 Georgia Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The analysis looked at three different categories of ACE exposure; those due to household challenges, childhood abuse, and total ACEs.

RESULTS: Depression had the strongest association with ACE exposure in all three categories. Significant associations were observed between each chronic disease outcome and abuse.

DISCUSSION: The results indicate that exposure to a single ACE is associated with higher risk of having depression. The strength of the association between chronic diseases and ACEs varies by chronic disease outcome.

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