The relationship between adverse childhood experiences, health and life satisfaction in adults with care experience : The mediating role of attachment

Amanda Hiles HOWARD*, Getrude Dadirai GWENZI, Trent TAYLOR, Nicole Gilbertson WILKE

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are associated with a plethora of negative outcomes. Research has also found that adults who were separated from parental care and lived in alternative care settings during childhood have high levels of ACEs and are more likely to have poor outcomes. A growing body of research has supported the importance of attachment as a mechanism underlying the relationship between ACEs and adult wellbeing. However, little work has examined the role that attachment may play in the outcomes of adults who resided in residential and foster care during childhood. The current study examined the role of attachment avoidance and anxiety in the associations between ACEs and mental health, physical health, and life satisfaction in a sample of 529 adults with alternative care experience from 11 nations. Attachment avoidance partially mediated the relationship between ACEs and life satisfaction, mental health, and physical health. Attachment anxiety partially mediated the relationship between ACEs and life satisfaction and mental health, but not physical health. Taken together, the present study suggests that both attachment anxiety and avoidance play important, but unique, roles in understanding the relationship between ACEs and health and wellbeing for adults with care experience. Implications and limitations are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-821
Number of pages13
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Child & Family Social Work published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)
  • alternative care
  • attachment
  • care leavers
  • health
  • life satisfaction

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