Investigating racial differences in clusters of adverse childhood experiences

Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2020;90(1):106-114. doi: 10.1037/ort0000405. Epub 2019 Feb 28.


Many researchers have examined the cumulative effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and found that higher levels of ACEs increase the risk for worsening health conditions. Recent research has moved beyond the simple counting of ACEs, to develop a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which ACEs are experienced. Despite evidence that ACEs are experienced differentially by race, limited attention has been paid to these differences. The objective of the current study is to understand whether groupings of ACEs are experienced similarly across racial groups. A subsample of Latinx, Black, and White children were drawn from the National Survey of Children's Health 2016 data release was used as the sample (N = 43,711). The primary measure included in the study were 9 ACE indicators available in the survey. We use descriptive and latent class analysis to examine whether similar clusters of ACEs appear across racial groups. We found that White children had lower exposure to specific ACEs as well as total number of ACEs compared to non-Latinx Black and Latinx Children. In addition, there was not configural similarity between race/ethnic groups and the latent class structure of ACE exposure varies by child race/ethnicity, suggesting important differences by child race. Understanding the disparities in children's experiences can inform screening and intervention development. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences / statistics & numerical data*
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • White People / statistics & numerical data*