Skip to main content

Dear community,

I feel that it is somewhat obvious to state that the receipt of health care, under certain conditions, can be an ACE, especially when in childhood/developmental stages. I have been searching Google Scholar and PubMed for any direct references/papers that speak to this. In particular, can anyone point me to published academic/peer-reviewed references that describe how needing medical care/having medical problems as a child can be classifiable as an ACE? I know response to stress exposure is highly individualized. I did find some material about how ICU care often leads to PTSD but that is not ACE specific. I have seen (and included myself) the idea that medical issues / medical care in childhood can be a possible ACE on "expanded ACE lists" but want to reference it more thoroughly if possible. Thank you for any leads.

Matt Erb, PT, Senior Faculty, The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, and Independent Scholar

Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Matt, I think you are spot on!  Interestingly, this is the 3rd time this week that this issue has come up in conversation. Even outside of the intensity of an ICU setting - when a trusting relationship is not established with a healthcare provider - being asked difficult questions can be traumatizing or retraumatizing.  The importance of patience voice was a recurring theme across all the discussions. Patient voice needs to be at the center of trauma informed practices. Utilizing universal precautions ensures that all patients (and staff) are treated in a way that supports their autonomy and recognizes that lived experiences shape who we are and who we become. Thanks for bringing up such an important topic! Karen

An interesting question, to be sure! Using Karen's point of a trusting relationship and patient voice, I think that there might be a shift in culture because as a child, was I not there really as a commodity? The Doc didn't ever address me, he addressed my mom. She talked about me, but never to me. Never was my fear addressed until it proved resistant, and then some level of force was used. Or in the case of circumcisions, a paralytic. No pain killer. In infancy and childhood then, yes, there can be that experience, but being assumed as a "trusting" relationship, we discount the patient voice and experience and I would surmise that little research is conducted at all on this issue.

Somewhat relative is the fact that the #3 killer in the USA is medical error, John Hopkins reported. Yet that never shows up in official data. Why? One reason is underlying assumptions, such as mentioned above. Another could the pedastalizing of medical professions/als that we do in the US, and a third might be the cost of doing business. The data is therefore not reported. I think we see this in the current pandemic.

Hi Matt,

I just spent some time on pub med and gathered a list of articles, which helps with my own research interests in the role of early adversity as a risk factor for chronic illness (I write about the science on my blog Chronic Illness Trauma Studies).

I'm attaching some articles I found.

Included is a short list with some of the 9 most relevant articles that includes abstracts and links. These include a journal article I published this summer on the role of adverse babyhood experiences (ABEs), a term I've coined for effects of prenatal and perinatal events, including complications for the baby during and after birth until the 3rd birthday. ABEs include incubator care, hospitalization, invasive medical procedures, circumcision. I also pull together research on how these early events are risk factors for later effects of trauma (similar to ACEs) and also how events that are potentially traumatic for the mother also impact the baby, to also influence outcomes for both. I've attached a copy of my journal article.

I am also attaching a full list of 60 articles I found. I haven't read them and some will be more relevant than others. I can send you the list with the abstracts if you like.

Your question also helped me discover a national group that focuses on prevention of trauma in medical settings:

Take a look here:

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

When I was in medical training 20 years ago, the hospital where I trained had a program to help prepare children for surgery. I don' t know if they specifically referred to it as preventing risk of trauma but they invested a great deal in it (McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario). The work above looks very similar.

Also find a video here talking about somatic experiencing as a way of working with medical trauma in childhood, as another form of validation for the importance of and effects of medical trauma. Includes interviews with the founder of SE, with Robert Scaer and MD who describes his own medical trauma in a reference in the short list; and Ana DoValle who worked with the child in the example:

BOB SCAER is interviewed
I believe all types of trauma are relevant to include as ACEs. Most have been studied even if these studies are sometimes hidden and not easily found.



Add Reply

Copyright Β© 2021, PACEsConnection. All rights reserved.
Link copied to your clipboard.