The Complex Interplay of Adverse Childhood Experiences, Race, and Income

Health Soc Work. 2017 Feb 1;42(1):e24-e31. doi: 10.1093/hsw/hlw059.


An extensive research base shows evidence of racial disparities in health outcomes, and a growing body of evidence points to associations between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and poor health. This study uses data from the 2011 and 2012 Wisconsin Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys to identify the relative contributions of ACEs, race, and adult income to predicting three sets of adverse adult health outcomes. The authors found that controlling for demographic factors, ACEs strongly predict health risk behaviors, indicators of poor general health, and chronic health conditions. Adult low-income status is associated with poor general health and chronic health conditions, but not health risk behaviors. African American race is marginally associated only with indicators of poor general health, and this association is attenuated when ACEs and adult income are controlled. These findings suggest a complex interplay among ACEs, race, and income.

Keywords: childhood trauma; health disparities; income; race.

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Socioeconomic Factors