Adverse childhood experiences, dispositional mindfulness, and adult health

Robert C. Whitaker, Tracy Dearth-Wesley, Rachel A. Gooze, Brandon D. Becker, Kathleen C. Gallagher, Bruce S. McEwen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether greater dispositional mindfulness is associated with better adult health across a range of exposures to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Methods: In 2012, a web-based survey of 2160 Pennsylvania Head Start staff was conducted. We assessed ACE score (count of eight categories of childhood adversity), dispositional mindfulness (Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale-Revised), and the prevalence of three outcomes: multiple health conditions (≥. 3 of 7 conditions), poor health behavior (≥. 2 of 5 behaviors), and poor health-related quality of life (HRQOL) (≥. 2 of 5 indicators). Results: Respondents were 97% females, and 23% reported ≥. 3 ACEs. The prevalences of multiple health conditions, poor health behavior, and poor HRQOL were 29%, 21%, and 13%, respectively. At each level of ACE exposure, health outcomes were better in those with greater mindfulness. For example, among persons reporting ≥. 3 ACEs, those in the highest quartile of mindfulness had a prevalence of multiple health conditions two-thirds that of those in the lowest quartile (adjusted prevalence ratio (95% confidence interval) = 0.66 (0.51, 0.86)); for those reporting no ACEs, the ratio was 0.62 (0.41, 0.94). Conclusion: Across a range of exposures to ACEs, greater dispositional mindfulness was associated with fewer health conditions, better health behavior, and better HRQOL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-153
Number of pages7
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Child abuse
  • Child maltreatment
  • Child neglect
  • Chronic disease
  • Health behavior
  • Mindfulness
  • Quality of life
  • Stress, psychological

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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