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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

South Carolina: Study Examines Rural-Urban Differences in Adverse Childhood Experiences

Researchers from the Rural and Minority Health Research Center at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health have completed a study on rural-urban differences in adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) across a national sample of children. The study was led by health services policy and management assistant professor Dr. Elizabeth Crouch and conducted with collaborators from her department, the School of Medicine, and the College of Nursing. Their findings were published in The Journal of Rural Health.

With this study, the researchers looked for differences among rural and urban residents in 34 states and the District of Columbia. They used data from nearly 26K respondents to the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health.

The authors found that rural children had higher rates of exposure to the majority of the ACEs examined (i.e., parental separation/divorce, parental death, household incarceration, household violence, household mental illness, household substance abuse, economic hardship). Further, the odds of four or more ACEs decrease as poverty levels decline, with children residing in 0-99 percent below the federal poverty line more likely to have reported four or more ACEs compared to children residing 400 percent or above the federal poverty line.

“Our findings suggest that poverty is a key policy lever that may mitigate the burden of ACE exposure,” Dr. Crouch says. “The findings of this study may be instructive for policymakers and program planners as they develop interventions to stop, reduce, or mitigate ACE exposure and the long-term impact of ACEs among children in rural America.”

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