The role of adverse childhood experiences in risky behaviors, health care utilization, and generalized self-efficacy in the general adult Polish population
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Masovian Regional Psychiatric Hospital Drewnica, Ząbki, Poland
Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Submission date: 2019-04-03
Final revision date: 2019-11-24
Acceptance date: 2019-12-21
Online publication date: 2020-06-15
The present study evaluated whether adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are significantly and independently associated with six key outcomes in the Polish general population: (1) lifetime suicide attempt, (2) self-mutilation, (3) potential problem drinking, (4) use of street drugs, (5) visiting a psychologist/psychotherapist, and (6) visiting a psychiatrist. We also investigated whether ACEs explain a significant proportion of variability in generalized self-efficacy.

Material and methods:
Six hundred and fifty-nine individuals completed the ACE Study questionnaire (physical, verbal, and sexual abuse; neglect; select family dysfunctions) and three additional questions [ACE (13) questionnaire]: witnessing (1) a family member’s suicide attempt or (2) death due to any cause except completed suicide, and (3) a stranger’s death due to any cause (e.g., traffic accident). Generalized self-efficacy was assessed with the Generalized Self-Efficacy Scale.

The likelihood of lifetime use of street drugs, potential problem drinking, and visiting a psychologist/psychotherapist and psychiatrist increased as ACE and ACE (13) score increased. As compared to scores of < 4, ACE (13) scores of ≥ 4 were associated with a 10.8-fold increased likelihood of self-mutilation, a 3.26-fold increased likelihood of potential problem drinking, a 5.72-fold increased likelihood of visiting a psychologist/psychotherapist, and a 6.71-fold increased likelihood of visiting a psychiatrist. ACE (13) score explained 1.2% of the variability in generalized self-efficacy.

The present study identified a strong association between childhood adversity and increased likelihood of lifetime self-mutilation, potential problem drinking, visiting a psychologist/psychotherapist, and visiting a psychiatrist. Generalized self-efficacy may be an important target for secondary intervention following childhood adversity.