Study: Exposure To Community Violence Linked To PTSD

Dictionary with PTSD highlighted in pink marker.
New CWRU research suggests childhood trauma screening should include questions about community violence. [Feng Yu / Shutterstock]
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“Adverse childhood experiences,” or ACEs, are linked to mental and physical health issues later in life. Now, new research from Case Western Reserve University and Virginia Commonwealth University suggests that community violence should also be considered an ACE.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a list of 10 generally accepted ACEs, which include things like neglect, abuse, and parental addiction.

There’s growing interest in the medical community to have providers screen for these ACEs, since they have such a profound effect on health in adulthood.

Community violence isn’t currently considered an ACE, but CWRU researcher Haenim Lee feels it should be, especially locally.

"Community violence in Cleveland is a very big issue, so we have to consider community violence as an important aspect of ACEs," she said.

Lee's research, recently published in the journal Preventive Medicine, shows a strong association between exposure to community violence and developing PTSD later in life. 

Including screening questions about community violence could help connect more kids to mental healthcare, she said, especially in minority populations who reported more exposure to violence.

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