Assessing the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and life satisfaction, psychological well-being, and social well-being: United States Longitudinal Cohort 1995–2014

  • Elise Mosley-Johnson
  • Emma Garacci
  • Nick Wagner
  • Carlos Mendez
  • Joni S. Williams
  • Leonard E. Egede



More than half of the U.S. population has experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACE), which are linked to physical and mental health issues. This study examines the relationship between ACEs and life satisfaction, psychological well-being, and social well-being.


Data of 6323 participants from three waves of the Midlife Development in the United States (1995–1996, 2004–2006, and 2011–2014) were used. Repeated measures models were used to test the associations between ACEs and all three psychosocial scales. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) were used to account for multiple survey measures. Adjusting for demographics and survey wave, GEE models were run for each ACE construct.


After controlling for demographic covariables, those reporting an ACE had significantly lower levels of life satisfaction (β = − 0.20, 95% CI − 0.26 to − 0.15) compared to those without an ACE. Those reporting higher ACE counts were associated with lower life satisfaction compared to those with no ACE (β = − 0.38, 95% CI − 0.56 to − 0.20; β = − 0.36, 95% CI − 0.46 to − 0.27; and β = − 0.13, 95% CI − 0.19 to − 0.08 for ACE counts of 3, 2, and 1, respectively). Abuse (β = − 0.41, 95% CI − 0.48 to − 0.33) and household dysfunction (β = − 0.18, 95% CI − 0.25 to − 0.10) were associated with significantly lower life satisfaction. Overall, those exposed to ACEs had significantly lower sense of social well-being.


In this sample of adults, ACEs were significantly associated with lower life satisfaction, lower psychological well-being, and lower social well-being, especially for those who report abuse and household dysfunction during childhood.


Adverse childhood experiences Life satisfaction Psychological well-being Social well-being 


Author contributions

EMJ and LEE designed the study. EG acquired and analyzed the data. EG and LEE developed the analyses, and EMJ, EG, NW, CM, JSW, and LEE interpreted the data. EMJ, EG, NW, CM, JSW, and LEE critically revised the manuscript for important intellectual content. All authors approved the final manuscript.


This study was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (Grant K24DK093699; Principal Investigator: Leonard Egede, MD, MS).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of MedicineFroedtert & The Medical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  2. 2.Center for Advancing Population ScienceMedical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  3. 3.Division of Diabetes and EndocrinologyClement J. Zablocki VA Medical CenterMilwaukeeUSA

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