New research by Bangor University and Public Health Wales has found that adults who suffered adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) report lower engagement with healthcare services.

The research surveyed 1,696 adults in Wales and England and found that individuals who had experienced four or more ACE types were over two times more likely to report low comfort in using hospitals and GP and dental surgeries, compared to those with no ACEs.

They were also over three times more likely to perceive that health professionals do not care about their health or understand their problems.

Dr Kat Ford at Bangor University said: “With around half of the population experiencing at least one ACE in childhood, it’s vitally important that healthcare providers are aware of how ACEs can affect healthcare engagement so that support can be tailored for individuals who have experienced ACEs.”

Professor Karen Hughes, Research and Development Manager (Specialist Projects) at Public Health Wales added: “ACEs can increase people’s risks of poor health throughout life and consequently their need to engage with health services.

“However, ACEs can also affect how people respond to stress and their trust in others, which may influence their perceptions of health services and advice.”