Tailoring health-related messages for young adults with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The goal was to identify factors that might affect likelihood of seeking health-related interventions for young adults with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). We tested whether ACEs were associated with (1) regulatory focus (tendency toward promoting good outcomes versus preventing bad outcomes), and (2) patient activation (the intention to take active charge of one's health). We further tested whether promotion and prevention and patient activation were associated with each other and with health. Students at a public university (N = 321) completed online questionnaires assessing ACEs, regulatory focus, patient activation, and health. Greater childhood adversity showed small but significant associations with being a less activated patient and being less focused on promoting good outcomes. In contrast, greater childhood adversity had a much stronger association with focusing on preventing negative outcomes. Students with a more significant mental health history were more likely to have been exposed to childhood adversity, to be less activated patients, and to focus more on prevention. Results suggest that using a prevention focus may be effective in health messages aimed to reach individuals with high levels of ACEs. Furthermore, individuals with high levels of ACEs may benefit from interventions aimed at increasing patient activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-202
Number of pages9
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)
  • Mental health
  • Patient activation
  • Physical health
  • Regulatory focus


Dive into the research topics of 'Tailoring health-related messages for young adults with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this