Childhood Adversity and Perceived Distress from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Karina M. Shreffler, Christine N. Joachims, Stacy Tiemeyer, W. Kyle Simmons, T. Kent Teague, Jennifer Hays-Grudo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Childhood exposure to adversity may increase an individual’s reactivity to subsequent stressors. In this paper, we examine how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are associated with experiencing greater perceived distress during the pandemic. In this volunteer clinical cohort study, 177 pregnant women (ages 16–38) were recruited from two university-affiliated perinatal clinics located in a small metropolitan city between October 2017 and May 2018. Longitudinal data collection is ongoing. The current study includes the 101 women who participated through the eighth and most recent survey conducted in mid-April 2020. OLS regression analyses were used to examine the association between childhood adversity and pandemic-related distress. We found that ACE scores were associated with higher levels of distress (b =.08; se =.03; p <.01) when controlling for demographic characteristics. The addition of loneliness to the model fully mediates the association between ACEs score and distress. Findings suggest that adverse childhood experiences influence COVID-19-related distress due to greater social isolation. Those who had greater adversity during childhood may be less likely to have the social connectedness needed to reduce distress due to the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalAdversity and Resilience Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • ACEs
  • Adversity
  • COVID-19
  • Childhood experiences
  • Isolation
  • Stress


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