Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as abuse or neglect, can affect patients’ emotional and physical health for many years. But identifying those traumas and addressing them can help prevent negative health effects.1
There are a number of ACEs screening tools that primary care physicians can add to their workflows. Academy Health reviewed nine ACEs screening tools aimed at different age groups and identified their various strengths and limitations. A Centers for Disease Control-Kaiser Permanente study used multiple questionnaires that can be downloaded from the CDC website. A subset of 10 questions from these lengthy questionnaires was found in a recent family medicine study to provide physicians with new information about their patients and to not significantly lengthen visits.2
Whatever you use, it’s important to have appropriate follow-up options in place before you screen for ACEs, whether that’s treatment, referral, or emotional support. Community organizations can often help with this.
1. Hillis SD, Mercy JA, Saul JR. The enduring impact of violence against children. Psychol Health Med. 2017;22(4):393–405.
2. Glowa PT, Olson AL, Johnson DJ. Screening for adverse childhood experiences in a family medicine setting: a feasibility study. J Am Board Fam Med. 2016;29(3):303–307.
Read the full FPM article: “Unlocking Clues to Current Health in Past History: Childhood Trauma and Healing.”
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