Faculty Publications


Adverse childhood experiences and psychological well-being in a rural sample of Chinese young adults

Document Type



Adverse childhood experiences, China, Mental health, Rural

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Child Abuse and Neglect




Background: International interest in adverse childhood experiences (ACE) is on the rise. In China, recent research has explored the effects of ACEs on health-related outcomes, but little is known about how ACEs impact the psychological functioning of rural Chinese youth as they make transition to adulthood. Objective: This study is aimed to assess the prevalence and psychological consequences of ACEs among a group of rural Chinese young adults. Participants and settings: 1019 rural high school graduates from three different provinces of China participated in this study. Methods: A web-based survey was used to assess ten conventional ACEs and seven other novel ACEs using the Childhood Experiences Survey. Using validated brief measures, six indicators of psychological functioning were assessed: anxiety, depression, perceived stress, posttraumatic stress, loneliness, and suicidality. Descriptive and correlational analyses of all ACEs were performed, and multivariate regressions were conducted to test associations between ACEs and study outcomes. Results: Three-fourths of Chinese youth endorsed at least one of ten conventional ACEs. The most prevalent ACEs were physical abuse (52.3 %) and domestic violence (43.2 %). Among seven new adversities, prolonged parental absence (37.4 %) and parental gambling problems (19.7 %) were most prevalent. Higher conventional ACEs scores were significantly associated with poorer psychological functioning, and each type of new adversity was associated with one or more psychological problems. Conclusion: ACEs were prevalent among rural Chinese young adults and had deleterious effects on their psychological well-being. Further work is needed to address ACEs by developing culturally appropriate assessment practices, interventions, and policy responses.


Department of Social Work

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version



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