Shelby County, TN Survey on Adverse Childhood Experiences

The public health issue: A child experiencing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as abuse and neglect, may experience an excessive or prolonged activation of physiologic stress response systems, which can increase the risk of poor health outcomes and higher mortality rates during adulthood. Previous studies have demonstrated that as the number of ACEs increase, the risk for health problems such as substance dependence and heart disease escalates sharply.

Our contribution to the client: A community collaboration commissioned the Research & Evaluation Group to conduct an ACEs telephone survey in Shelby County, Tennessee. Households were asked about negative childhood experiences and answered questions relating to measures of physical, social, and behavioral health during adulthood. We created the survey instrument, managed survey data collection, conducted statistical analyses, and wrote a final report describing the findings for the commission.

In Shelby County, one out of every two surveyed adults reported at least one ACE and 12 percent of adults had experienced four or more. Adults who experienced four or more ACEs had greater odds of being a problem drinker or current smoker; having multiple sexual partners; having used illicit drugs; having been diagnosed with depression: and having attempted suicide as compared to a person with no ACEs. An adult with four or more ACEs also had significantly greater odds of being unemployed, being unable to work, and feeling s/he had insufficient job opportunities. The findings from this report provide the organizations of the commission with information needed to create programs and policies to reduce and prevent ACEs and their negative consequences. The commission included Porter-Leath, a nonprofit organization serving children and families; Knowledge Quest, a nonprofit organization serving as a community agent for social change; and Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women, in partnership with the Adverse Childhood Experiences Task Force of Shelby County.

Read the report here.

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