The Influence of Protective Factors on Perceived Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences

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Presentation: 4:45


Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) have been linked to long-term negative health outcomes, substance abuse, and illegal activity. However, many individuals overcome these traumatic events and become healthy, successful, stable adults. Research has found that internal cognitive processes and personal attributes such as resilience, centrality, and the perceived impact of the ACE influence these divergent paths. Interpersonally, there is evidence that positive relationships during childhood and adolescence serve as protective factors (which reduce the negative effects of traumatic events). My study’s aim is to find if there is an association between the external influences of protective factors and the internal perception of the impact of ACES. I recoded, merged, and analyzed data from three separate data sets (N = 456) containing survey responses on ACES, perceived impact of the ACE, valence of the ACE, and presence of protective factors to identify if there is a statistically significant correlation between protective factors and the perceived impact of ACES. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first study to assess the correlations between the perception of the ACE (magnitude and valence) and the presence or absence of protective factors. Statistically significant bivariate correlations were found between higher ACE scores and increased perception of magnitude of the ACE, higher ACE scores and decreased perception of valence of the ACE, presence of protective factors and decreased ACE scores, presence of protective factors and decreased perception of magnitude of the ACE, and presence of protective factors and increased perception of positive valence of the ACE. Unique to our study, we identified that perception of the valence of the ACE, ranging from very negative to very positive, has a positive correlation to the identified protective factors when controlling for ACE score.