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Oversikt over psykisk hjelp


By Kallerna [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

The ACE study is a famous study in psychology. It showed that there is a clear connection between stress in childhood and negative outcomes later in life.

 Image: Dreamstime (with licence)


But not only that: the ACE study also showed that there is a cumulative connection. That is: the more stress you had in childhood, the more negative outcomes in health and quality of life you had later in life. 


What is meant by stress in childhood?

In the ACE study, however, there was a definite understanding of what should be considered as stresses, or traumas, in childhood. In English, they called such strains "adverse childhood experiences" (ACE) and the abbreviation of this has thus given name to the study. 

According to Psychology Today, such ACEs included:

Abuse, neglect / neglect, and living in a particularly difficult family situation.

More specifically, such strains involve emotional, physical, and sexual forms of abuse; emotional and physical neglect; and living in a home with domestic violence, or mental illness and / or substance abuse, or that parents undergo separation / divorce, or that a family member goes to prison.


The total load

The study also showed that such ACEs are common. Almost 2/3 of all the 17.000 people who participated in the study had at least one such ACE, while more than 20% had 3 or 4 such ACEs.

The ACE score is the sum of all the childhood ACEs one has had, and is used to measure the "cumulative" (total) amount of stress or strain in childhood.

An important finding in the study was, as mentioned, that the more strains one had in childhood, the stronger the connection with negative outcomes related to health and quality of life later in life.


Negative outcomes later in life

The more childhood burdens one had, the more one had of the following negative outcomes:


  1. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  2. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  3. Depression
  4. Fetal death
  5. Impaired quality of life
  6. Use of illicit drugs
  7. Heart disease
  8. Liver disease
  9. Weak performance in working life
  10. Poor economy
  11. Risk of partner violence
  12. Having many sexual partners
  13. Sexually transmittable diseases
  14. Smoking
  15. Suicide attempt(s)
  16. Unwanted pregnancies
  17. Early onset of smoking
  18. Early sexual debut
  19. Pregnancy in adolescence
  20. Poor school performance

In other words, the study gave good reason to take strain in childhood seriously - and the study marked, according to some, the start of a new discipline within research: namely research on childhood trauma.



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