April is Child Abuse Prevention Month Apr 1, 2019

At FBH, we have incorporated Trauma-Informed Care practices into our treatment programs because we know that trauma - especially in childhood - alters everything about a person, from worldview to coping skills.

Our understanding of trauma today is based on groundbreaking research on the correlation between adverse childhood experiences and later-life health and wellness conducted in 1995 by medical professionals at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente's Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego.

More than 17,000 participants undergoing comprehensive physical exams agreed to answer questions about their childhood experience of abuse, neglect and family dysfunction. The results of the study, one of the largest of its kind ever conducted, led to what we know today about the toll trauma and violence takes on an individual's health and behavior. That understanding is at the core of Trauma-Informed Care.

For the study, participants were asked whether they had experienced any one of 10 Adverse Childhood Experiences before age 18:

  • recurrent physical abuse
  • recurrent emotional abuse
  • contact sexual abuse
  • household member who abuses alcohol or drugs
  • incarcerated household member
  • someone within the household who has chronic depression
  • a person in the household who has a mental illness, has been institutionalized, or is suicidal
  • a mother who treated them violently
  • one or no parents
  • emotional or physical neglect

Researchers assigned one (1) point to each ACE. The total score was the sum of those points. A score of zero (0) meant no exposure to trauma and a score of ten (10) meant exposure to all the categories of trauma.

What the researchers discovered is that childhood trauma is common. Almost two-thirds of the study's participants reported at least one ACE and more than 1 in 5 reported three or more ACEs. Furthermore, researchers found that as the ACE score increases, so does the risk of health and behavioral problems for the remainder of an individual's life. Chronic childhood stress can disrupt neurodevelopment, which in turn affects the ability to cope with negative events. Over time, children and adolescents may develop negative coping mechanisms such as drug or alcohol abuse. Those behaviors, according to researchers, then lead to health and social problems and can shorten lifespan.

While trauma is prevalent, it is also treatable, which is why FBH and other behavioral healthcare providers nationwide have begun integrating their services with physical health care providers to promote health and prevent abuse. However, to achieve Integrated Managed Care, FBH and others are also addressing the trauma that precipitates many chronic diseases.

< Back to news