Mersky, J. P., Plummer Lee, C., & Janczewski, C. E. (2022). Adverse adult experiences and health outcomes: Racial and ethnic differences in a low-income sample. Stress & Health.
Extending research on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), this study aimed to investigate whether the prevalence of and outcomes associated with adverse adult experiences vary among racial and ethnic subgroups. Survey data were collected from 1566 low-income women in Wisconsin using the Adult Experiences Survey (AES). Ten major adult adversities were assessed, including items that reference an intimate partner or household member (e.g., physical or emotional abuse, substance use) along with other social and economic stressors such as homelessness and discrimination. Adverse adult experiences were highly prevalent overall, but even more so among non-Hispanic Whites than their Black and Hispanic counterparts. The results reinforce prior research on ACEs in low-income populations. Lending further credence to these findings, tests of measurement invariance indicated that the AES demonstrated acceptable configural and scalar invariance across racial and ethnic groups. As expected, greater exposure to adult adversity was significantly related to poorer physical and mental health. These associations manifested cross-sectionally and longitudinally for observed and latent measures of adult adversity—even after controlling for ACEs. Associations between adult adversity and health were not moderated by race/ethnicity. In sum, adverse adult experiences were unequally distributed across racial/ethnic groups, but the consequences associated with adversity appeared to be evenly dispersed.