Safe, Stable, and Nurtured: Protective Factors against Poor Physical and Mental Health Outcomes Following Exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Abstract

Protective factors can build resilience and potentially moderate the long-term impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). To better understand the role of protective factors, this study examines the relationship of two protective factors focused on safe, stable and nurturing relationships, ACEs, and self-reported mental and physical health outcomes among a representative adult sample from the South Carolina Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Protective factors were assessed as potential moderators of ACEs and poor self-reported physical and mental health in multivariate logistic regression analyses. Respondents exposed to four or more ACEs who grew up with an adult who made them feel safe and protected were less likely to report frequent mental distress or poor health. The use of protective factors may be an effective prevention strategy for ACEs and its associated outcomes and may serve as a mechanism to “break the cycle” of childhood trauma.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth Crouch.

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All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000.

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Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

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Crouch, E., Radcliff, E., Strompolis, M. et al. Safe, Stable, and Nurtured: Protective Factors against Poor Physical and Mental Health Outcomes Following Exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Journ Child Adol Trauma 12, 165–173 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-018-0217-9

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Keywords

  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Resilience
  • Protective factors
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Health