What Are ACEs and How Do They Impact Health?
CDC-Kaiser Permanente ACEs survey results from more than 17,000 patients in San Diego, 1995-1997.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are 10 common childhood traumas, identified by doctors and surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente. ACEs are the biggest determinant of health and social outcomes identified to date – bigger than healthy eating or physical activity (although both of those are parts of the “antidote” that build resilience and improve outcomes). This is where the CDC and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (the biggest leaders to improve health in this country) are taking their focus to improve health in this country.
It’s important to note that it is not WHAT specific traumas someone’s experienced, it is HOW MANY. That’s what impacts health. The good news is there are interventions that organizations and individuals can participate in to build resilience – again, the antidote to ACEs.
The original Kaiser study, conducted in San Diego, found 70% of the population surveyed in doctor’s offices had one or more ACEs. As the number of ACEs increased, health problems (and costs) did too. With three ACEs, the risk for heart disease and depression goes through the roof. With six or more, people die 20 years younger. Yet, there are actions we can take to turn these outcomes around. Learn more about the statistics and resources.
To quote Dr. Robert Anda from the film, “ACEs are not destiny…ACES are a tool for understanding the health of a population as a whole. For individuals, an ACE score can be a tool for understanding their own risk for health and social problems, and empower them to make changes for themselves and their children.”
Trauma informed care is the response that mitigates ACEs. In Wake County, we have an opportunity to make this bigger and more impactful. Some organizations are already using this, and together we can do more by harnessing our community’s resources. This takes shared leadership, and we hope you will lead with us.
AHA will be forming a steering committee in the coming months. Contact AHA if you would like to be part of working within your organization, or community wide, to lead on this work, and if you would like to host a film screening.