Journal Title:  Annals of Clinical Psychiatry | Vol:  19 | Issue:  2 | Year:  2007   
Print ISSN:  1040-1237 | Online ISSN:  1547-3325   

Adverse Childhood Experiences, Smoking and Mental Illness in Adulthood: A Preliminary Study

Kristi A. Sacco PsyD
Tony P. George MD
Cory A. Head BA
Jennifer C. Vessicchio LCSW
Caroline J. Easton PhD
Holly G. Prigerson PhD

pages: 89 - 97


Background . Adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are associated with mental illness and smoking in adulthood, but ACE has not been studied as a determinant of this comorbidity. This study was designed to examine effects of ACE on the expression of smoking behavior and mental illness in adulthood.

Methods . We examined the relationship between ACE, smoking status, and the expression of serious mental illness in adults (n = 101). Subjects were evaluated with a semi-structured interview that included psychiatric status, smoking status, substance abuse and presence and severity of ACE. Subjects were grouped into four categories based on psychiatric and smoking status: psychiatric smokers (PS), psychiatric nonsmokers (PNS), control smokers (CS) and control nonsmokers (CNS).

Results . ACE was associated with serious mental illness or smoking behaviors in adulthood, and to a lesser extent with co-morbid mental illness and smoking. Cumulative number of ACE was highest in the order of PS > PNS > CS > CNS.

Conclusions . These preliminary results suggest an association between the presence of ACE and the expression of severe mental illness in adulthood, and possibly to comorbid smoking and mental illness. Longitudinal research using larger samples is needed to determine the causal relationship between ACE and co-morbid smoking and mental illness.