October 22, 2018

Social Determinants of Health and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Rubén Peralta, Community & Tribal Engagement Specialist

By now, most of us working in or around health care are aware of the effects social determinants have on a population’s health outcomes. Furthermore, we are familiar with the research conducted by Dr. Vincent Felitti and Dr. Robert Anda on ten of these Social Determinants of Health, better known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

Since the study, three discoveries have been made that, together, point toward hope for the next generation. First, in the ACEs study conducted in 1996, it was found that the impact of childhood trauma on the biological development of the brain is the most significant determinant of nearly every negative health outcome – behaviorally, mentally, socially, emotionally and physically. In that same study, and many confirming studies, it was also found that almost no one escapes childhood without experiencing trauma. Last, just as trauma changes the brain in unhealthy ways, the influence of caring adults and positive environments can influence it in healthy ways.

In addition to creating the Community Health Fund to address Social Determinants of Health within our region, GCACH is exploring ways to engage existing efforts that address ACEs specifically by helping bring awareness to the public and helping to increase capacity in resiliency building programs. To this end, GCACH’s Community and Tribal Engagement Specialist, Rubén Peralta, attended the ACEs & Resilience Community of Practice Conference in Pasco. The attendees were mostly people whose jobs put them in the front lines with the public affected by ACEs. It is within groups like this that GCACH can find champions and guidance on how our resources can be best utilized to build resiliency.