Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are presumed to influence internalizing and externalizing behaviors that can significantly debilitate long-term biopsychological development in individuals. Psychological resilience has been shown to effectively mediate the relationship between ACEs and negative health outcomes since individuals with low levels of resilience may have difficulty with bouncing back from toxic exposure to ACEs. Thus, the present systematic review and meta-analysis was aimed toward synthesizing current knowledge of the relationship between ACEs and psychological resilience in youths. Methods: A combination of key words relevant to the present study was searched on the PubMed, EMBASE, Scopus, Cochrane, and Google Scholar databases. The results were restricted to English publications and human studies, with subjects ranging between the age of 0 to 35 years. Effect-size measures inclusive of pooled correlation coefficients for correlation analyses and pooled odds ratios for regression analyses, respectively, were calculated using random-effect models to determine the relationship between ACEs and psychological resilience. Results: The searches identified 85 potentially relevant studies. Among them, 76 were excluded due to limited access, irrelevant data, and the fact that the variables of interest were not explicitly measured or disclosed, leaving a final total of nine studies considered valid for the meta-analysis. Findings from correlational meta-analysis (n = 6) revealed a significantly negative association between ACEs and resilience (β = −0.120 [−0.196, −0.043]). The meta-analysis of the studies (n = 3) reporting dichotomous outcomes (ACE ≥ 1 vs. no ACE) indicated that subjects who experienced an ACE were 63% less likely to display high resilience, in comparison to subjects without such experiences. Conclusion: Our results support a negative association between ACEs and psychological resilience and highlight the multiple dimensions that constitute resilience in an ACE-exposure context. These findings may be particularly useful to policy makers and healthcare institutions in terms of helping them devise effective medical interventions and community outreach programs intended to develop resilience in youths, thus reducing health-risk behaviors and negative health outcomes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health