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Results of the Alberta Adverse Childhood Experiences Survey with Dr. Sheila McDonald

Presenter: Dr. Sheila McDonald

To date, there has been no research done in Alberta on Adverse Childhood Experiences and there is limited Canadian data. The Alberta Adverse Childhood Experiences Study was a random-digit dialing telephone survey of Albertan adults (n=1207) that was conducted in 2013. The original ACE checklist was modified to be appropriate for interviewing people about sensitive issues over the telephone and covered two main areas of childhood trauma: childhood abuse and growing up in a household where there was family dysfunction. Results from the Alberta ACE study demonstrated that ACEs were common and there were strong associations between childhood trauma and increased risk for poor health outcomes in adulthood. Almost 1/3 of Albertan adults experienced abuse and almost 1/2 experienced family dysfunction. Children who experienced more ACES were more likely to be diagnosed with mental health conditions, substance dependence, and physical health conditions with an inflammatory component in adulthood. The association between ACEs and poor health remained strong even when other risk factors for poor adult health outcomes, such as poverty, were taken into consideration. Children who experienced both abuse and family dysfunction had the highest risk for negative health outcomes in adulthood. Implications of the findings will be discussed.