Adverse Childhood Experiences and Prescribed Psychotropic Medications in Adults

Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
American Journal of Preventive Medicine (Impact Factor: 4.53). 06/2007; 32(5):389-94. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2007.01.005
Source: PubMed


Prescription drugs are one of the fastest growing healthcare costs in the United States. However, the long-term influence of child abuse and related traumatic stressors on prescriptions for psychotropic medications in adults has not been described. This study assessed the relationship of eight adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) to rates of prescriptions for psychotropic medications throughout adulthood. These ACEs included: abuse (emotional, physical, or sexual), witnessing domestic violence, growing up with substance abusing, mentally ill, or criminal household members, and parental separation/divorce.
Data about ACEs were collected between 1995 and 1997 from adult health maintenance organization patients; prescription data were available from 1997 to 2004. The number of ACEs (ACE Score: maximum 8) was used as a measure of cumulative traumatic stress during childhood. The relationship of the score to rates of prescribed psychotropic drugs was prospectively assessed among 15,033 adult patients eligible for the follow-up phase of the study (mean follow-up: 6.1 years). Data were analyzed in 2006. Multivariate models were adjusted for age, race, gender, and education.
Prescription rates increased yearly during the follow-up and in a graded fashion as the ACE Score increased (p for trend <0.001). After adjusting compared with persons with an ACE Score of 0, persons with a score of equal to or more than 5 had a nearly threefold increase in rates of psychotropic prescriptions. Graded relationships were observed between the score and prescription rates for antidepressant, anxiolytic, antipsychotic, and mood-stabilizing/bipolar medications; rates for persons with a score of equal to or more than 5 for these classes of drugs increased 3-, 2-, 10-, and 17-fold, respectively.
The strong relationship of the ACE Score to increased utilization of psychotropic medications underscores the contribution of childhood experience to the burden of adult mental illness. Moreover, the huge economic costs associated with the use of psychotropic medications provide additional incentive to address the high prevalence and consequences of childhood traumatic stressors.

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Available from: David W Brown, May 10, 2014
    • "Subjects were also evaluated using both self-report and interview versions of the ConflicteTactic Scales (CTS) (Straus et al., 1998). Information from the TAI and CTS were used to determine their ACE score (Anda et al., 2006; Felitti et al., 1998) based on criteria delineated in Anda et al. (2007). Degree of exposure to maltreatment was also quantified using the childhood trauma questionnaire (CTQ) (Bernstein et al., 1997, 1994), which is a 28-item selfreport inventory that provides a brief, reliable, and valid screen for histories of abuse and neglect. "
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    • "Till date, growing evidence has acknowledged the co-occurrence of multiple types of severe adversities (Mullen et al., 1996; Higgins and McCabe, 2001; Diaz et al., 2002; Clemmons et al., 2003; Dong et al., 2004; Stevens et al., 2005; Arata et al., 2007; Finkelhor et al., 2007, 2009; Turner et al., 2010; Greeson et al., 2011; Trickett et al., 2011) and their greater risk for subsequent trauma exposure and cumulative clinical impairment compared with singly traumatized youth (Schumm et al., 2006; Finkelhor et al., 2007, 2009; Cloitre et al., 2009; Margolin et al., 2009; Shen, 2009; Heim et al., 2010). However, numerous studies highlight the additive effect of child and adolescent multi-type maltreatment on later symptom complexity and psychopathology, including internalizing (Danielson et al., 2005; Schumm et al., 2006; Anda et al., 2007; Sachs-Ericsson et al., 2007; Widom et al., 2007; Ford et al., 2010), externalizing (Brown and Anderson, 1991; Herrenkohl et al., 1997; Finkelhor et al., 2009; Ford et al., 2009, 2010; Shen, 2009), and trauma symptoms (Boney- McCoy and Finkelhor, 1996; Mulder et al., 1998; Schaaf and McCanne, 1998; Finkelhor et al., 2007, 2009; Vranceanu et al., 2007; Shen, 2009; Ford et al., 2010). Following this large amount of studies, it is understandable that trauma may be referred not only as a present-or-absent construct but also includes dimensional aspects, considering the multiplicity of maltreatment forms observed as well as the frequency of traumatic exposure. "
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