Predictors of Depressive Disorders and Poor General Health in Adults: The Role of Adverse Childhood Experiences

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Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) such as exposure to abuse, dysfunction, and neglect have been shown to affect adult health outcomes. The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) captures national data on risk factors and chronic disease and first included ACE items in 2009. The purpose of this study was to determine whether specific ACEs predicted depressive disorders or poor general health in adulthood. ACEs included: living with someone who suffered from a mental illness, and primary exposure (physical abuse) and secondary exposure (interpersonal violence in home) to violence. BRFSS data from 2009- 2012 were included. Analyses were performed using SPSS and SAS. Descriptive statistics were completed for ACEs, race, gender, history of depressive disorder (DD), and general health status (GH). Logistic regression analyses were conducted to predict DD and GH, controlling for race, gender, and age. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were reported. A total of 1,148 individuals were including in the analyses, with 31.4% having DD, 26.9% reported poor GH, 27.4% lived with someone who had a mental illness, 31.3% exposed to primary violence, and 30.2% exposed to secondary violence. Individuals who lived with someone who suffered from a mental illness were three times more likely to have DD (OR 3.28, CI 2.40-4.47) compared to those who did not, however, this exposure did not significantly affect GH. Those exposed to primary violence were 40% more likely to have DD (OR 1.40, CI 1.02-1.92) and were two times more likely to report poor GH (OR 2.09, CI 1.51-2.89) compared to those not exposed. Individuals exposed to secondary violence were 70% more likely to have DD (OR 1.70, CI 1.24-2.32) and were 48% more likely to report poor GH (OR 1.48, CO 1.06-2.05). This suggests that exposure to specific ACEs negatively impacts adult health, resulting in a higher likelihood of DD and poor GH.


Seattle, WA

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