Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Program

Psychology

Date of Award

8-2022

Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Alyson Chroust

Committee Members

Diana Morelen, Eric Sellers, Stacey Williams

Abstract

ACEs have been associated with heightened risk for a range of chronic health problems, substance use, and cognition in adulthood (Center for Disease Control (CDC), 2019; Hinojosa et al., 2017). One potential protective factor is physical activity (McEwen, 2016; Wu et al., 2013). Physical activity is associated with sustaining overall health, improving mental health by reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety (Murri et al., 2019; Sharma et al., 2006; Tasci et al., 2019), and maintaining a healthy body weight and BMI (WHO, 2021). Therefore, this study examined whether barriers to physical activity, physical activity levels, and executive outcomes serve as serial mediators to the relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and perceived quality of physical health. Participants (n=75) completed several self- report measures related to ACEs, barriers to physical activity, amount of physical activity, and perceived quality of physical health. Following the questionnaires, they completed three executive function tasks (Flanker, Sternberg, Wisconsin Card Sorting) via E PRIME. Results revealed that lack of time, lack of willpower, and lack of energy were the most prevalent barriers to physical activity.

Additionally, a significant serial mediation analysis indicated that barriers to physical activity and physical activity levels mediated the relationship between ACEs and perceived quality of physical health. Specifically, higher ACE scores were associated with more barriers to physical activity, followed by lower physical activity levels, which in turn, lower perceived quality of physical health. However, there was insufficient evidence to conclude that executive function serially mediates the relationship between ACEs and perceived quality of physical health. The current study provides clarification on specific pathways that contribute to the relationship between ACEs and perceived quality of physical health. Future research should focus on developing interventions and educational efforts that reduce barriers to physical activity and increase physical activity and resilience building in populations that are more prone to early adversity efforts, as it may be linked to perceived quality of physical health.

Document Type

Dissertation - embargo

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.

Available for download on Thursday, June 15, 2023

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