Introduction: Clinicians require tools to rapidly identify individuals with significant childhood adversity as part of routine primary care. The goal of this study was to shorten the 11-item Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) measure and evaluate the feasibility and validity of this shortened measure as a screener to identify adults who have experienced significant childhood adversity.
Methods: Statistical analysis was conducted in 2015. ACE item responses obtained from 2011-2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data were combined to form a sample of 71,413 adults aged ≥18 years. The 11-item Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System ACE measure was subsequently reduced to a two-item screener by maintaining the two dimensions of abuse and household stressors and selecting the most prevalent item within each dimension.
Results: The screener included household alcohol and childhood emotional abuse items. Overall, 42% of respondents and at least 75% of the individuals with four or more ACEs endorsed one or both of these experiences. Using the 11-item ACE measure as the standard, a cut off of one or more ACEs yielded a sensitivity of 99%, but specificity was low (66%). Specificity improved to 94% when using a cut off of two ACEs, but sensitivity diminished (70%). There was no substantive difference between the 11-and two-item ACE measures in their strength of association with an array of health outcomes.
Conclusions: A two-item ACE screener appropriate for rapid identification of adults who have experienced significant childhood adversity was developed.
Copyright © 2016 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. All rights reserved.