Validity of an expanded assessment of adverse childhood experiences: A replication study

Choi, C., Mersky, J. P., Janczewski, C. E., Plummer Lee, C., Davies, W. H., & Lang, A. C. (2020). The Childhood Experiences Survey: Replication study of an expanded assessment of adverse childhood experiences. Children and Youth Services Review.  

Research has shown unequivocally that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are prevalent and consequential, but the field lacks consensus around how they should be measured. This replication study reexamined the construct and concurrent validity of the Childhood Experiences Survey (CES), an expanded assessment of 10 conventional ACEs and seven novel childhood adversities. The CES was administered to three samples of adults with children in a Midwest state: (1) caregivers whose children were the subject of a screened-in child protective services report (n = 1,087), (2) low-income women who voluntarily enrolled in a home visiting program (n = 659), and (3) a convenience sample from general population (n = 667). The prevalence of childhood adversities and their intercorrelations were assessed. Extending a previous exploratory analysis, a confirmatory factor analysis was conducted to examine the underlying structure of the CES, and tests of association were performed between the factors and adult mental health outcomes. Results confirmed that all 17 adversities were common and interrelated. For each sample, the 10 conventional ACEs fit a two-factor structure: child maltreatment and household dysfunction. The expanded assessment of 17 adversities fit a four-factor solution: direct victimization/household dysfunction, neglect, poverty, and family separation/loss. All factors were significantly associated (p < .05) with depressive symptoms and anxiety symptoms in all three samples. Implications for further measurement development aimed at advancing ACE research are discussed.

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