Extensive research demonstrates that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are highly interconnected and have numerous health consequences well into adulthood. Yet, there is a dearth of focused research that examines ACEs and health inequities for American Indians (AIs).
To assesses the prevalence of ten types of childhood adversities, explore constellations of exposures, and examine whether there are differential risks of mental health outcomes according to sub-group classification.
Adult AIs with type 2 diabetes from five reservation-based tribal communities in the Great Lakes region of the U.S.
Prevalence was estimated using a modified version of the World Health Organization’s ACE-International Questionnaire. To examine heterogeneity in ACEs exposures, latent class analysis was used. Risk of mental health outcomes was calculated by class.
The four most common ACEs reported were residing with someone who abused substances, witnessing household violence, incarceration of a household member, and sexual abuse. Three latent classes were identified: low risk (56.7%), family maladjustment with high probabilities of household violence, incarceration, and substance abuse (27.1%), and complex trauma (16.3%) with moderate to high probabilities of exposure to all ACEs. The most consistent differences in mental health outcomes were between the low risk and complex trauma classes.
Identification of a high number of participants in the low-risk class helps structure a more wholistic image of AI families, as negative stereotypes of AIs are abundant. For the minority of individuals in the complex trauma class, risk for chronic mental health challenges and co-morbidities appears to be high.

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