ACEs are the biggest determinant of health and social outcomes identified to date – bigger than healthy eating or physical activity (although both of those are parts of the “antidote” that build resilience and improve outcomes). This is where the CDC and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are taking their focus to improve health in this country.
It is important to note that it is not which specific traumas someone has experienced, but how many. That is what impacts health. The good news is there are interventions that organizations and individuals can participate in to build resilience – again, the antidote to ACEs.
Kaiser’s original study, conducted in San Diego in the 1990s, found that 70% of the population surveyed in doctors’ offices had one or more ACEs. As the number of ACEs increased, health problems (and costs) did as well. With three ACEs, the risk for heart disease and depression goes through the roof. Six or more ACEs reduce life expectancy by 20 years. Yet there are actions we can take to turn these outcomes around. Learn more about the statistics and resources.
To quote Dr. Robert Anda from the film Resilience, “ACEs are not destiny … ACEs are a tool for understanding the health of a population as a whole. For individuals, an ACE score can be a tool for understanding their own risk for health and social problems, and empower them to make changes for themselves and their children.”
SAFEchild loans DVD copies of Resilience to community organizations interested in taking action to prevent ACEs, to build resilience and to use trauma-informed approaches in Wake County.