Adverse Childhood Experiences and Current Psychosocial Stressors: Exploring Effects on Mental Health and Parenting Outcomes from a Mother–Baby Partial Hospital Program

Nora L. Erickson, Jessica M. Flynn, Helen G Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can detrimentally impact perinatal mental health, birth outcomes, and parenting behaviors. Proximal psychosocial stressors also increase risks to perinatal health and wellbeing. Additional research on effective perinatal mental health programs is needed, especially for individuals and families with historical and concurrent adversity, and those with moderate to severe symptoms. Methods: The Mother-Baby Day Hospital at Hennepin County Medical Center provides trauma-informed, multi-generation treatment for perinatal women. Data were collected from patients between January 2016 and September 2019. Self-reported depression, anxiety, and maternal functioning assessments were administered pre- and post-treatment. Patients completed the ACE questionnaire and indicators of current psychosocial stressors (i.e., food insecurity, housing insecurity, and social support) at intake. A series of bivariate tests and hierarchical regression models examined relationships among variables, including whether distal and proximal adversity predicted post-treatment symptoms. Results: 159 Perinatal patients consented to research and completed the ACEs questionnaire at first admission. High proportions of patients reported 4+ ACEs and current psychosocial stressors. Effect sizes for associations between ACEs, psychosocial stressors, and self-report symptoms were small to moderate. Individuals with food or housing insecurity entered treatment with higher anxiety. In regression models, the most robust predictors of post-treatment symptoms were pre-treatment symptoms. Effects of ACEs on post-treatment depression and food insecurity on post-treatment maternal functioning approached the adjusted significance cut-off (p <.01). Conclusions for Practice: Current psychosocial stressors and ACEs did not substantially limit post-treatment depression, anxiety, and maternal functioning outcomes. High prevalence of ACEs and psychosocial stressors highlight the need for trauma-informed, multi-generation treatments to improve maternal mental health and parenting capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-298
Number of pages10
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was partly funded by the Lynne and Andrew Redleaf Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

Keywords

  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Multi-generation treatment
  • Partial hospital program
  • Perinatal psychiatric illness

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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