Childhood Poverty, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and Adult Health Outcomes

Member: Kristen S. Slack
(University of Wisconsin - Madison)
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This study aimed to consider childhood poverty in relation to a count measure of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) as a predictor of adult health outcomes and to determine whether associations are sensitive to how childhood poverty is operationalized. A sample of 10,784 adult residents was derived using data 2014–2015 Wisconsin annual Behavioral Risk Factor Survey data, derived from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Adult health outcomes (health risk behaviors, general health problems, chronic health problems, and depression) were predicted using a more conservative and severe indicator of childhood poverty, and authors tested whether observed associations were attenuated by the inclusion of an ACE count variable. Findings showed that severe indicators of childhood poverty are associated with general and chronic health problems as well as adult depression. These associations are attenuated, but remain intact, when ACEs are included in regression models. Using the CDC BRFSS data for Wisconsin, the study showed that associations between childhood poverty and adult health are sensitive to the way in which childhood poverty is operationalized. The relationship between childhood poverty and other ACEs is complex and thus warrants treating the former as a distinct childhood adversity rather than an item in an ACE summary score.

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Last Revised Date 
Thu, 09/16/2021 - 15:55
Type of resource 
Published Article or Book Chapter
Resource Institution 
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Institution Type 
4 or 4+ year College/University
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