Comparison of Person-Centered and Cumulative Risk Approaches in Explaining the Relationship Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Behavioral and Emotional Problems

George Hales, Agata Debowska, Richard Rowe, Daniel Boduszek, Liat Levita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) commonly co-occur, and researchers often estimate their impact using a cumulative risk approach. The person-centered approach offers another approach to operationalize the co-occurrence of ACEs. This study aims to estimate latent classes of ACEs in a sample of U.K. children, examine their relationship with emotional and behavioral problems, and compare the explanatory value of the latent classes to cumulative risk scores. Data were collected among a general population sample of British 10-year-old children extracted from the U.K. Household Longitudinal Study (N = 601). Seven items characterized ACEs, comprising parent-report physical discipline, emotional abuse, supervisory neglect, maternal psychological distress, child-report parental educational disinterest, bullying victimization, and adverse neighborhood. Outcome measures were derived from the self-report Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire including total difficulties, emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity, peer problems, and prosocial behavior. Latent class analysis resulted in a three-class solution: low ACEs, household challenges, and community challenges. Compared to the other classes, the community challenges class scored substantially worse on total difficulties, emotional symptoms, and peer subscales. The cumulative risk score was associated with all outcomes except prosocial behavior. Cumulative risk models accounted for a larger proportion of variance compared with the latent class models, except for peer problems which the person-centered model explained better. This study confirms that ACEs are associated with impairment in child functioning, and that both person-centered and cumulative risk approaches can capture this relationship well. Specifically, the person-centered approach demonstrated how co-occurring risk factors in the community challenges class produced particularly poor internalizing outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8065-8087
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Volume38
Issue number13-14
Early online date10 Feb 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023

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