Adverse Childhood Experiences and worsened social relationships in adult life among Polish medical and dental students
KeywordsAdverse Childhood Experiences, medical students, dental students
Introduction and purpose. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events experienced before the age of 18 that have lasting negative effects on physical and mental health. Numerous studies have shown that exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences increases the probability of chronic health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease, asthma, depression or PTSD. The aim of the study was to investigate the prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences among medical and dental students of Polish Medical Universities and to examine an association between ACEs and chosen factors associated with social relationships of the students.
Material and method. A total of 1162 medical and dental students from each year of education and 18 different Polish universities took part in the study. The research tool contained the Adverse Childhood Experiences standardized questionnaire and authors’ questions.
Results. More than a half of the students (57.4%) had at least 1 exposure to ACEs. 8.43% of them experienced 4 or more childhood adversities. The most commonly reported ACEs were: emotional neglect (23.06%), emotional abuse (22.98%) and mental illness or a suicide attempt in a household member (21.86%). An overall graded relationship was found between ACE score and: parents’ lower level of education, negative relationship with parents, siblings and friends and having a diagnosis of depression.
Conclusions. Adverse Childhood Experiences are common among Polish medical and dental students and are associated with worsened social relationships and depression in adult life of the students. It is important to implement strategies that aim to prevent ACEs and help to build social support networks for those that are affected by them.
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