Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Andrea Boyle, PhD, FNAP
Patricia Harris, PhD, RN
Many poor health outcomes later into adulthood have been triggered by adverse life events that have occurred during childhood. Most of the general population has experienced some sort of adverse childhood event that has negatively impacted their future health. Adverse childhood events include any traumatic event that has occurred during childhood including maltreatment (sexual abuse, mental abuse, and physical abuse), neglect, parental loss, and peer victimization.
Raising awareness regarding the opportunities to intervene in a child’s life as a means to prevent behavioral, psychological, and substance abuse disorders before they would typically manifest on their own is the ultimate goal. As health care providers, it is imperative that the nursing profession offer profound resources to those affected by childhood trauma and be able to identify and intervene as early and as appropriately as possible with proper education and resources.
Based on a thorough literature review it is found that adverse childhood events can cause a variety of different health outcomes into adulthood. Some of these health outcomes in adulthood include mental illness (anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.), cardiovascular alterations (stroke and coronary artery disease), and drug abuse. The more adverse childhood events that occurred in a person’s life, the more prevalence there was for poor diet, daily smoking, and heavier alcohol consumption. However, these negative outcomes decreased when there was a supportive adult present to consult with. With early and proper identification and intervention poorer health outcomes in adulthood can be avoided.
Adverse childhood experiences negatively impact the mental and physical health of an individual throughout their life. In order to mitigate this impact, education and intervention is required.