Scientific evidence indicates that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are important contributors to health problems across the lifespan. With this increasing knowledge about the relationship between ACEs and illness, there is also an increasing interest by health providers, healthcare institutions, and funders in how best to identify and address these experiences in patients. The purpose of this “online collaborative learning document” is to help answer those questions by briefly describing:

  • The growing evidence for the relationship between ACEs and health
  • The role of resilience and other mitigating factors
  • Approaches for helping parents
  • Current best practices regarding identification and effective treatments to address ACEs
  • Clinical approaches for patients who have symptoms and health problems that may be related to ACEs
  • Self-help approaches for adults with ACEs
  • Ways to develop trauma-informed care and integrated systems of care
  • Estimated costs associated with ACEs
  • The research needed to advance knowledge and to improve care for patients whose health problems may be related to ACEs

This paper is the result of collaboration between the Academy on Violence and Abuse (AVA), a membership organization for health professionals and educators focused on improving knowledge, education, and practice related to exposures to violence and abuse, and the National Health Collaborative on Violence and Abuse (NHCVA), an organization of more than 30 health professional societies and other concerned organizations whose mission is to inform public policy regarding violence, abuse, and health.

Our hope is that this paper will facilitate ongoing discussion; promote needed attention and resources to prevention, early recognition, and effective treatment of the harms associated with adverse childhood experiences; and help integrate ACEs into public health surveillance, policy, and healthcare practice.