The Adverse Childhood Experience Research
In the mid 1990’s a group of Kaiser physicians who were working with patients with severe chronic diseases noticed that they all had the same stories of terrible childhood events. They started studying this and found a strong relationship with certain negative occurrences in childhood and pretty much every possible chronic disease. It made sense that traumatized kids ended up with more mental health struggles like depression and anxiety, but when they also found a strong dose response relationship with obesity, diabetes, job losses, and even cancer, everyone started scratching their heads.
The Kaiser physicians developed a 10 question assessment related to trauma that individuals experienced prior to 18 years old, called the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Scale. They then launched a large scale study, involving tens of thousands of patients, to correlate health conditions with an individual’s ACE score. The results were shocking!
Researchers found that people with a high ACE score (>4) are 230% more likely to have cancer, 200% more likely to have cardiovascular disease, 10 times more likely to abuse injected drugs, and 40 times more likely to attempt suicide. Learn more about ACEs from the CDC by clicking here.
Screening and Assessments
Doctors in California are screening more than 500,000 patients for Adverse Childhood Experiences per year. More and more people are learning that they are at elevated risk for chronic disease. You can take the ACE assessment below, and receive a confidential individualized report. See below or click here.
But that creates a challenge. If you have a moderate or high ACE score, what should you do? Is a guarantee that you’re going to suffer from chronic conditions?
Absolutely not! In fact, at Healing Grove we have a number of patients with an ACE score of 10 (they’ve had every single bad thing happen to them). And they are thriving in health, family, and life. Just like the Kaiser researchers, we are interviewing those who have experienced severe trauma but are doing well, and we are observing the kinds of interventions that promote resilience in their stories. Researchers are also working on Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs) which can be shown to promote resilience.
ACE Expert, Dr. Angela Bymaster, M.D.
Healing Grove co-founder and primary care physician, Dr. Angela Bymaster, M.D. is an expert in Adverse Childhood Experiences. Her research has been featured in peer reviewed journals (here’s a free copy of that paper) and articles.