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Disclaimer

These studies contain no personal opinions of mine. They are reported here in summary from research and experiments conducted by qualified professionals who are experts in their fields of study. The purpose is to continue to educate our communities using forums such as this. These postings are not intended to serve as any form of therapy. Seek qualified and licensed professionals if necessary.

Overview of Study

This study examined a stress model of the relationship between adverse child experiences (ACE) to explore their relationship with wellbeing. The study was conducted at two mental health and addiction treatment centers. 176 individuals were interviewed from various demographics. Child trauma questionnaire were completed including the NEO-Five Factor Theory, Trait Emotional Intelligence, Coping, Stressful Situations and a few others. Feedback was also obtained from friends, families and religious organizations of the participants. Multiple regression and correlation were used to analyze the data.

Method

The two mental health and addiction centers are located in Dublin, Ireland. Ethics approval was granted by the ethics committees in Trinity College Dublin’s School of Psychology and by the two treatment centers. Participants were recruited from service users referred to the centers between June 2010 and January 2011. All participants were white and of Irish National between the ages of 18-68 consisting of 86 males and 90 females. The breakdown of the sample is as follows: 35 had no disorder, 26 had substance dependency, 50 had mood disorder, 15 had substance induced disorder, and 50 had a dual diagnosis (determined by DSM-IV-TR). All participants started and completed the study. Consent forms were signed and were asked questions regarding how they generally felt or viewed themselves and not to focus on specifically on any elation, depression or intoxication.

Participants rated their experiences when they were growing up by scoring their history of emotional, physical, sexual abuse, and emotional and physical neglect. In addition, the biological parents of the participants were contacted to obtain any history of being bullied in their children’s childhood and family history of substance dependency or mood disorders. The Structural Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR Axis I Disorders, Research Version, Patient Edition with Psychotic Screen, 2002, was used to determine the diagnosis.  The scoring card has 5 items for each abuse/neglect type and participants rated their experiences by scoring each item on a 5-point scale from never true, rarely true, sometimes true, often true or very often true. This scale was chosen because it is brief and has been shown to be valid and reliable with a variety of clinical samples. One of the various questionnaires, Child Trauma Questionnaire resulted in the following alpha for each type of abuse was physical neglect α=.77, emotional neglect α=.91, emotional abuse α=.82, physical abuse α=.85, sexual abuse α=.98 and total abuse α=.93. The study also included the alpha resulted for the other various questionnaires.

All data analyses were conducted using SPSS version of 16 for Windows. The data were screened for missing values, outliers, linear relationships, and normality. No missing values were found. The relationship between ACEs and the number of stressors, wellbeing, and psychosocial resources were explored using Pearson’s correlations. Correlations were interpreted using Cohen’s guidelines which indicate that r=.1-.29 is small, r=.5-1.0 is large Multiple regressions were examined if the relationship between the number of ACEs and wellbeing scores.

Results

The result of this study indicated that all early experiences, except physical abuse were significantly correlated with the number of stressors and wellbeing. The increased numbers of ACEs were related to higher neuroticism and emotionally focuses coping and lower conscientiousness, higher agreeableness, low trait emotional intelligence and low task coping scores. These results are significantly related to increased stressors and lower wellbeing. Distraction and emotional coping were highly affected by ACEs. These findings supported the disorders resulted from childhood abuse experiences resulting in significant psychosocial, emotional intelligence, coping skills and wellbeing of an adult who have experienced childhood abuse.  In addition, the results showed those who experienced abuse had behavioral dispositions in self-perception concerning one’s ability to recognize, process, and utilize emotion-based information.

Discussion

This study suggests that ACEs should be thoroughly assessed as they have a significant impact of stressors and reduce wellbeing. The study should be used to develop treatment plans and can focus on the increases risk of lower wellbeing or clinical disorder later in life. This highlights the need for victims of early abuse to engage in interventions designed to improve coping with stressors. In particular, more interventions are required for children experiencing ACEs to attempt to break the cycle of ongoing re-victimization throughout their lifespan.

Strengths and Limitations

The primary area of strength of this study shows the linked theory with existing research findings to examine a general model that may be applicable to a variety of clinical disorders. It measures a large number of early experiences and psychosocial resources to comprehensively examine their relationship and found support for the theory that number of stressors mediates the relationship between the psychosocial resources and information on how psychosocial resources were related to stressors and wellbeing. On the other hand, this study was cross-sectional from treatment centers and their responses may be influenced by their current situation and environment. Their responses may be different from individuals not seeking treatment. Although this study examined numerous ACEs, it did not include all possible ACEs such as domestic violence or family in prison.

Reference:

McElroy, S., Hevey, D. (2013). Relationship between adverse early experiences, stressors, psychosocial resources and wellbeing. Child Abuse and Neglect, 38, 65-75.

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