Sociocultural Risk and Resilience in the Context of Adverse Childhood Experiences

Sara B. Vanbronkhorst, Eyal Abraham, Renald Dambreville, Maria A. Ramos-Olazagasti, Melanie Wall, David C. Saunders, Catherine Monk, Margarita Alegría, Glorisa J. Canino, Hector Bird, Cristiane S. Duarte

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2 Scopus citations


Importance: Knowledge about childhood resilience factors relevant in circumstances of marginalization and high numbers of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can improve interventions. Objective: To identify sociocultural resilience factors in childhood that are associated with better young adult mental health in the context of ACEs. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study examined 4 waves of data from the Boricua Youth Study, which included Puerto Rican children from the South Bronx, New York, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Participants were aged 5 to 17 years at waves 1 through 3 (2000-2003) and aged 15 to 29 years at wave 4 (2013-2017). Linear and logistic regression models tested the associations of 7 childhood resilience factors and their interaction with ACEs on young adult mental health outcomes. Data were analyzed from June 2021 to October 2023. Main Outcomes and Measures: Perceived stress, major depressive disorder and/or generalized anxiety disorder (MDD/GAD), and substance use disorder (SUD) in young adulthood. Results: Among a total 2004 participants, the mean (SD) age at wave 4 was 22.4 (2.9) years; 1024 participants (51.1%) were female, and 980 (48.9%) were male. Positive parent-child relationships and nonparental adult support during childhood were associated with both lower perceived stress (β = -0.14; SE = 0.02; P <.001; β = -0.08; SE = 0.03; P =.003, respectively) and lower odds of MDD/GAD (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.84; 95% CI, 0.73 to 0.97; aOR = 0.81; 95% CI, 0.69 to 0.95, respectively) in young adulthood. Maternal warmth reported during childhood was also associated with lower young adult perceived stress (β = -0.11; SE = 0.02; P <.001). None of the resilience factors were associated with SUD. The resilience factors familism, friendships, and family religiosity were not associated with any of the mental health outcomes. ACEs were associated with poorer mental health outcomes; however, none of the resilience factors exhibited interactions consistent with being protective for ACEs. Unexpectedly, higher family religiosity was associated with more perceived stress in the presence of higher ACEs. Conclusions and Relevance: The results of this study suggest that promoting positive relationships with adults during childhood may reduce later young adulthood stress and MDD/GAD. However, there is still a need to identify sociocultural childhood protective factors for ACEs. Caution should be taken in assuming what resilience factors are relevant for a given group, as higher family religiosity (one postulated resilience factor) was unexpectedly associated with a stronger, rather than a weaker, association between ACEs and perceived stress in young adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-413
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2024
Externally publishedYes

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