Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Help-Seeking for Health-Related Interventions in Young Adults

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22 Scopus citations


Although college students have increasingly higher health needs, they underutilize interventions. Given the association between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and poor health, the goal of this study was to examine the contribution of ACEs in undergraduates to seeking help for problems related to health. An online survey of students (N = 321, 76% female, 72% Caucasian) in a large public university showed that respondents with more ACEs were more likely to seek help, including both professional and informal types of help. However, they were less likely to find interventions helpful and more likely to quit prematurely. Common reasons for seeking help were anxiety, stress, and depression, with depression more prevalent in the high-ACEs group. More ACEs were associated with more unmet needs and greater likelihood of obtaining health information from school, another professional, or the media. More research is needed on how to harness the power of informal sources of help to improve the health of students with more ACEs, how to tailor health-related messages to fit their needs, and why students with more ACEs find interventions less helpful. Finally results suggest that ACEs shape not only lifelong health but also behaviors related to seeking help in young adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-22
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • health
  • help-seeking behavior
  • interventions
  • stress


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