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Published February 26, 2019
The University of Wyoming Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) chapter’s Open School recently held a panel discussion of interdisciplinary professionals from a broad range of health care professions to discuss the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on adult health.
ACEs include physical, sexual and emotional abuse; physical and emotional neglect; and exposure to intimate partner violence, parental divorce, substance abuse in the household, household members suffering from mental illness and an incarcerated household member.
Panelists included Donna Sheen, director/attorney with the Wyoming Children’s Law Center; Kirsten Havig, assistant professor of social work; Matt Gray, professor of psychology; Mary Guenzel, occupational therapist with Ark Regional Services; and Nicki Alexander, certified physician assistant with Family Physicians of Laramie. Members of the UW and local community attended.
“I have experience writing research proposals and manuscripts using ACEs. I infuse them into my classes, including trauma-informed practice, social welfare policy and child welfare, and I have given a number of presentations from the ACEs perspective -- in particular, the application of a post-traumatic growth perspective as a pathway to prevention based on interrupting ACEs trajectories,” Havig says.
Following the viewing of a TED talk by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris on ACEs, those in attendance -- numbering about 120 students, faculty and community members -- listened as the panel discussed the clinical implications of ACEs in their individual practices. The panelists also fielded questions from the audience.
Panelists universally agreed that ACEs affect a majority of the people with whom they work. A large study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente in 1998 revealed that almost 40 percent of adults report two or more ACEs and 12.5 percent experienced four or more. As researchers followed participants over time, they discovered that people’s cumulative ACE scores have a strong relationship to numerous health, social and behavioral problems throughout their lives.
The IHI Open School, located in UW’s College of Health Sciences, welcomes all students, faculty, staff and community members interested in understanding how to improve health care systems and services to attend upcoming presentations. For more information and a schedule of upcoming events, visit www.uwyo.edu/hs/institute-for-healthcare-improvement/ or email questions to email@example.com.