Adverse childhood experiences and mental health: Comparing the link in rural and urban men who have sex with men

Zachary Giano, Randolph D. Hubach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Research shows individuals experiencing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) as well as identifying as a man who has sex with other men (MSM) are at an increased risk for mental health issues. Less has been studied, however, on ACEs in MSM; with even fewer studies investigating non-urban (e.g., rural/small town/suburban) MSM, as most research features urban samples. This is problematic due to studies showing that rurality can influence the behavior of MSM. The current study comparatively investigates the impact of ACEs on the mental health of rural/small town/suburban and urban MSM. Methods: Participants included 156 MSM residing in Oklahoma. Linear regression was used to test the association between ACEs’ and mental health (anxiety, depressive symptoms, and loneliness). Split-sample regressions were conducted on rural/small town/suburban and urban MSM. Results: ACEs were associated with all three mental health outcomes in the full sample. However, ACEs were significantly linked to anxiety and depressive symptoms only in urban MSM. Limitations: Limitations include a smaller sample size with limited racial/ethnic variations. Conclusions: Results suggest that living in an urban environment may amplify the risks of ACEs, rural/small town/suburban MSM may acquire outside, unique support networks which work to limit the effect of ACEs, or that rural/small town/suburban MSM may manifest the effects of ACEs differently (or a combination of the three). Trauma-informed programming has been shown to effectively reduce mental health issues, yet consideration is generally not given with regards to rurality. Future programming and research should consider rurality/urbanity as influential factor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-369
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • ACEs
  • Depression
  • Health
  • Mental
  • MSM
  • Rural


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