Date Approved

2019

Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Jamie Lawler

Second Advisor

Dr. Steven Jefferson

Third Advisor

Dr. Ellen Koch

Abstract

In the United States, estimates suggest that 45% of adults endorse having experienced at least one of the ten items of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Questionnaire (Sacks, 2018). Having adverse experiences in childhood is strongly related to the development of a wide range of health problems later in life, including depression (SAMHA, 2018; CDC, 2016). However, it is not fully understood what accounts for this association. One factor that may account for the relationship between ACEs and depression could be lower socioeconomic status (SES). Specifically, I am proposing an explanatory model built upon the following linkages that are supported in the literature. First, having a higher number of adverse experiences (ACEs) in childhood is associated with coming from a background of lower-income (Font and Maguire-Jack, 2016). Second, SES has been found to be a consistent predictor of symptoms of depression in adults (Kessler et al. 1994). Finally, given these relationships, I am proposing that the association between ACEs and symptoms of depression will be mediated by SES. Additionally, a lower SES may restrict access to care for individuals, resulting in untreated mental health symptoms (Adler & Newman, 2002). The purpose of this study was to determine whether socioeconomic status (SES) and access to care account for the relationship between ACEs and depression. Data were collected from 77 participants taking an anonymous online survey through a link on social media sites. Results showed that the higher number of reported ACEs was associated with lower SES and less access to care, and these factors were associated with an increased risk of depression. Mediational analyses showed that higher ACE scores significantly predicted lower socioeconomic statuses/limited access to care and high depression levels. Also, low socioeconomic status/access to care significantly predicted high depression levels. Therefore, targeted interventions may be necessary for an individual's overall wellbeing and sustainability in society.

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