Following the successful completion of a 2013 survey PHMC's Research and Evaluation Group (REG) conducted in Philadelphia assessing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on urban communities, the ACE Task Force of Shelby County, Tenn., contracted REG to undertake a similar study examining adults living in and around Memphis.

According to Mary Harkins-Schwartz, REG Evaluation Specialist, securing a report for a second major metropolitan area, demonstrates that the survey methods are valid and the findings replicable "It shows our capability to do work in other populations and expand our reach," she said. In addition, Harkins-Schwarz noted, the fact that people in both surveys responded so thoroughly to the very personal questions, "attests to our capability to design a sensitive study."

Both the Philadelphia and Shelby County ACE surveys capitalize on findings from the original study of ACEs conducted in the late 1990s, which showed that negative experiences during childhood, such as suffering child abuse or neglect or parental substance abuse, not only impact quality of life during childhood, but also have a detrimental impact on the health and well-being of that child as an adult. ACEs have been linked to an increase in risky health behaviors during adulthood, such as smoking, illicit drug use and multiple sexual partners. Having a high number of ACEs has also been associated with poor health outcomes in adulthood, such as heart attacks, cancer and depression.

REG's Tennessee survey included telephone interviews with more than 1,500 adults. The report can be found here. The Philadelphia survey, conducted in partnership with the Institute for Safe Families, included more than 1,700 adults. The data from that report is housed at the Health Federation of Philadelphia. Overall, 52 percent of the adult population in Shelby County, an estimated 361,200 adults have experienced at least one ACE and 12 percent of adults experienced four or more ACEs.

The Tennessee survey's findings and the fact that they show the need for parenting centers were the subject of a public forum featuring community leaders including the mayors of Memphis and Shelby County. That event was the subject of several media stories in outlets such as WREG-TV, and The Memphis Flyer.

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