Positive Childhood Experiences and Family Health
This study examined predictors of family health, specifically childhood experiences, and their effects on family health. Studies on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have shown that ACEs lead to poor health outcomes. Conversely, studies on advantageous childhood experiences (counter-ACEs) indicate that counter-ACEs are associated with better health outcomes and fewer mental health disorders in adulthood. An important next step is to understand how one’s childhood experiences affect their family health in adulthood. We hypothesized that ACEs lead to poorer family health outcomes and counter-ACEs can not only be used as a predictor for individual health in adulthood, but also as a predictor of overall family health. Counter-ACEs will not only lead to better health outcomes but will also counter the effects of ACEs. The sample for this study included 1035 adults, largely demographically representative of the U.S., recruited via a Qualtrics panel. Participants completed a survey measuring their childhood experiences and current family health. Data were analyzed using a structural equation modeling framework. We found that ACEs negatively affected three of the four domains of family health and counter-ACEs positively predicted all four domains of family health. Across all domains, the influence of counter-ACEs on family health was stronger than the effect of ACEs. They were not only stronger than ACEs but could also negate the effects of the ACEs. These findings provide valuable information in understanding intergenerational trends of family health by examining how childhood experiences may affect one’s family health and wellbeing in adulthood.