Adverse childhood experiences, dispositional mindfulness, and adult health

Prev Med. 2014 Oct;67:147-53. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.07.029. Epub 2014 Jul 30.


Objective: To determine whether greater dispositional mindfulness is associated with better adult health across a range of exposures to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

Methods: In 2012, a web-based survey of 2160 Pennsylvania Head Start staff was conducted. We assessed ACE score (count of eight categories of childhood adversity), dispositional mindfulness (Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale-Revised), and the prevalence of three outcomes: multiple health conditions (≥ 3 of 7 conditions), poor health behavior (≥ 2 of 5 behaviors), and poor health-related quality of life (HRQOL) (≥ 2 of 5 indicators).

Results: Respondents were 97% females, and 23% reported ≥ 3 ACEs. The prevalences of multiple health conditions, poor health behavior, and poor HRQOL were 29%, 21%, and 13%, respectively. At each level of ACE exposure, health outcomes were better in those with greater mindfulness. For example, among persons reporting ≥ 3 ACEs, those in the highest quartile of mindfulness had a prevalence of multiple health conditions two-thirds that of those in the lowest quartile (adjusted prevalence ratio (95% confidence interval)=0.66 (0.51, 0.86)); for those reporting no ACEs, the ratio was 0.62 (0.41, 0.94).

Conclusion: Across a range of exposures to ACEs, greater dispositional mindfulness was associated with fewer health conditions, better health behavior, and better HRQOL.

Keywords: Child abuse; Child maltreatment; Child neglect; Chronic disease; Health behavior; Mindfulness; Quality of life; Stress, Psychological.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness*
  • Pennsylvania
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Young Adult