Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis

Degree Name

MS in Physician Assistant Studies (PA)


Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Vanessa S. Bester, EdD, PA-C, DFAAPA


Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that can occur in a child’s life prior to the age of 18. An adverse childhood experience can be physical/emotional abuse, neglect, parental divorce, substance abuse, or physical abuse in the home. This literature review will be looking at the impact screening for ACEs can make on the prevention of long- term health outcomes in adolescents.

Purpose: ACEs tend to leave a negative effect on the developing brain of a child causing them to have an increased risk of developing chronic medical conditions and being at high risk for substance abuse and mental health conditions as an adult if they do not receive appropriate interventions.

Methods: A comprehensive literature review was conducted using PubMed, ScienceDirect, and Google Scholar using the search terms adverse childhood experiences, effects of ACEs, trauma in adolescents, substance abuse, adult mental health, and PTSD. Inclusion criteria were studies that were conducted within the last five years from 2017-2021. Exclusion criteria were studies that were not conducted in the last five years and studies only focusing on ACEs in adults.

Conclusion: To decrease the prevalence of ACEs, screening recommendations are required, and unique interventions suited to the needs of individuals are needed. This can be completed through primary care providers, social workers, or school psychiatrists that can administer ACEs screening and refer patients to appropriate providers based on the care they require. The benefit of early screening is providing each individual, particularly adolescents, with early intervention services to decrease the long-term effects of ACEs.


SC 11.PAS.2022.Wais.E