Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Adriana Espinosa

Second Advisor

Sarah O' Neill

Third Advisor

Adeyinka Akinsulure - Smith


ACEs, adverse childhood experiences, childhood trauma, depression, Black adults, emerging adulthood, African Americans, Black Caribbean, urban college students, sex differences


Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have been linked to adult mental health consequences (e.g., depressive symptoms). Black people are disproportionately affected by ACEs, and factors related to ethnic subgroups and/or sex may produce differential depressive outcomes. The current study examined the moderating role of sex in the association between adverse childhood experiences and depression symptoms using a life course of health approach among a sample of Black emerging adults. Participants (n = 159) of the current study were Black (e.g., African – American) and Black Caribbean (e.g., Jamaican) undergraduate students (18 – 59 years old; 72.3% female) attending a large, public northeastern college in the United States, who took part of a broader study aiming to understand factors influencing mental health outcomes in adulthood. Participants self – reported their sociodemographic information, their early childhood adversity (Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Questionnaire), and their depressive symptoms within the past week (Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D-R 10). Significant sex differences in type of ACEs were found such that females were more likely to report sexual abuse and emotional neglect compared to males. ACEs were moderately positively correlated with depressive symptoms. Significant differences were not observed between Black and Caribbean Black students’ depressive scores. No sex x total number of ACEs interaction was found. Clinical implications for college based and culturally – sensitive interventions are discussed.



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