Personal characteristics associated with the effect of childhood trauma on health

John Muench, Sheldon Levy, Rebecca Rdesinski, Rebekah Schiefer, Kristin Gilbert, Joan Fleishman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This article will describe a pilot study to explore associations between adult attachment style, resilience, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and adult health. Method: A self-report survey was mailed to 180 randomly selected primary care patients and linked to a retrospective chart review. The patients met the following criteria: (1) enrolled for at least the previous year at their primary care clinic, (2) 21 years of age or greater, (3) English as their primary language, and (4) were seen by their provider on selected dates of the study. The survey was made up of three instruments: (1) the Adverse Childhood Experiences Questionnaire which consists of 10 questions about the respondent’s adverse experiences during their first 18 years of life; (2) the Relationship Scales Questionnaire which measures adult attachment style; and (3) the Connor–Davidson Resilience Scale, a self-report scale that measures individual’s perceptions of their resilience. For each returned questionnaire, we calculated a measure of medical complexity using the Elixhauser Comorbidity Index. Results: Of the 180 randomly selected patients from four clinic sites, 84 (46.6%) returned completed questionnaires. We found that Adverse Childhood Experience scores were significantly correlated with health and attachment style and trended toward association with resilience. Conclusion: This pilot study revealed expected relationships of the complex associations between Adverse Childhood Experiences, attachment style, and resiliency. Further research with more subjects is warranted in order to continue to explore these relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)384-394
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Adverse Childhood Experiences
  • attachment
  • behavioral medicine
  • medical complexity
  • resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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