Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Jill Stinson

Committee Members

Megan Quinn, Jameson Hirsch, Matthew McBee, Andi Clements


Individuals exposed adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are at increased risk of developing chronic illnesses in adulthood including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic pain. A relationship between ACEs and health risk factors contributing to chronic disease such as smoking, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle has also been established in prior literature. There is evidence that higher that individuals in forensic inpatient mental health samples are disproportionally exposed to ACEs, which may increase odds of chronic disease development. Despite this evidence, little research has examined the prevalence of ACEs and relationships between ACEs and chronic health conditions and risky health behaviors in this population. This study evaluated these variables using archival data collected as part of a large interdisciplinary study from a forensic psychiatric facility. A list of clients (N=182) meeting inclusion criteria was randomly generated and a comprehensive record review was used to ascertain ACE scores and rates of health-risk behaviors and chronic conditions. Findings offered support for increased rates of childhood adversity and a significant relationship between ACE scores and health-risk behaviors within a forensic inpatient mental health population. However, relationships between ACEs and chronic illnesses and health-risk behaviors and chronic illnesses failed to reach significance. The lack of significance in these relationships suggests that ACEs are less singularly predictive of chronic illness within this population and instead different factors may drive the development of chronic illness.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.