New research in JAMA Pediatrics adds urgency to integrating the trauma-informed and health equity movements

The study team from the Division of Violence Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, led by Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities Advisor Melissa Merrick, analyzed adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.  Their findings reinforce existing knowledge regarding the widespread prevalence of childhood adversity across all demographics. The study also brings into sharp focus the fact that some groups are bearing a disproportionate burden of those traumatic experiences.  From the study:  “In this cross-sectional survey of 214,157 respondents, participants who identified as black, Hispanic, or multiracial, those with less than a high school education, those with annual income less than $15,000, those who were unemployed or unable to work, and those identifying as gay/lesbian or bisexual reported significantly higher exposure to adverse childhood experiences than comparison groups.”
At the heart of the trauma-informed movement is a shift in practice to ask not “What is wrong with you?” but rather “What happened to you?”  At the Health Federation of Philadelphia, we believe that this warrants serious consideration of the factors that shape an individual’s experiences, including the social structures that support, or thwart, the development of safe, stable, and nurturing environments.  Our allies in the health equity movement are thoughtful leaders in this work.  Together, the trauma-informed and health equity movements could really make a difference for our children.