Using phenome-wide association studies and the SF-12 quality of life metric to identify profound consequences of adverse childhood experiences on adult mental and physical health in a Northern Nevadan population

Front Psychiatry. 2022 Oct 6:13:984366. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2022.984366. eCollection 2022.


In this research, we examine and identify the implications of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on a range of health outcomes, with particular focus on a number of mental health disorders. Many previous studies observed that traumatic childhood events are linked to long-term adult diseases using the standard Adverse Childhood Experience Questionnaire. The study cohort was derived from the Healthy Nevada Project, a volunteer-based population health study in which each adult participant is invited to take a retrospective questionnaire that includes the Adverse Childhood Experience Questionnaire, the 12-item Short Form Survey measuring quality of life, and self-reported incidence of nine mental disorders. Using participant's cross-referenced electronic health records, a phenome-wide association analysis of 1,703 phenotypes and the incidence of ACEs examined links between traumatic events in childhood and adult disease. These analyses showed that many mental disorders were significantly associated with ACEs in a dose-response manner. Similarly, a dose response between ACEs and obesity, chronic pain, migraine, and other physical phenotypes was identified. An examination of the prevalence of self-reported mental disorders and incidence of ACEs showed a positive relationship. Furthermore, participants with less adverse childhood events experienced a higher quality of life, both physically and mentally. The whole-phenotype approach confirms that ACEs are linked with many negative adult physical and mental health outcomes. With the nationwide prevalence of ACEs as high as 67%, these findings suggest a need for new public health resources: ACE-specific interventions and early childhood screenings.

Keywords: SF-12 quality of life metric; adverse childhood experiences; phenome-wide association study; public mental health; social determinants of health.

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.73n5tb30g