Stressful events and adolescent psychopathology: A person-centred approach to expanding adverse childhood experience categories

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Abstract: Stress from cumulative adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can pose a serious risk of experiencing anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders in adolescence. However, there is a paucity of research identifying specific profiles or combinations of exposure to other forms of stressful life events and their impact on adolescent psychopathology. This study attempted a conceptual expansion of the ACE checklist by examining these stressful events. The study used cross-sectional data from a modified version of the CASE Study survey where 864 adolescents (56% female, n = 480), aged from 11 – 18 years were recruited from four post-primary schools in the North-West region of NI. Latent class analysis of the 20-item stressful events checklist revealed 3 distinct risk classes: a low-risk class (53.5%), at-risk class (42.7%), and an immediate-risk class (3.8%). Results showed those at most risk of adolescent psychopathology had the highest probability of encountering interpersonal relationship issues, experiencing family dysfunction, and having close friends experiencing psychological difficulties. Findings indicate that the original ten ACE categories may be too narrow in focus and do not capture the wide range of childhood adversity. Expanding the ACE checklist to include other stressful events is discussed as these may also be antecedents to psychopathologic responses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-340
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Trauma
Issue number2
Early online date30 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
No funds, grants, or other support was received.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

© The Author(s) 2021.


  • Stress; Adolescent; Psychopathology; Adverse Childhood Experience; Anxiety; Depression; Dose-response; Latent Class.
  • Dose–response
  • Adolescent
  • Adverse childhood experience
  • Depression
  • Latent Class
  • Anxiety
  • Psychopathology
  • Stress
  • Original Article


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