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According to an article by CNBC by Dan Mangan, 14 community health care centers from around the US are experimenting to see if screening people for underlying adverse childhood experiences and treating them for their underlying childhood trauma AT THE SAME TIME as their chronic health conditions creates a significant change in the overall trajectory of their health thereby creating an overall reduction in managed healthcare costs.

One such location is the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless where they currently have 25 participants in the study. Overall, about 100 participants from the additional facilities are now enrolled in the experiment.

Adverse Childhood Experiences Study

Evidence from over two decades ago provided by the transformational ACE study (Adverse Childhood Experiences) showed individuals who have suffered adverse childhood experiences are much more likely to have chronic health problems such as

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Pulmonary disease
  • liver disease

are also more likely to engage in high risk behaviors such as:

  • Substance Use
  • Suicide attempts
  • Multiple sexual partners

are also more likely to struggle with greater degrees of mental health conditions such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Ptsd

This costs big bucks to the overall healthcare system.


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in 2012 that “the total lifetime financial costs associated with just one year of confirmed cases of child maltreatment… is approximately $124 billion.” 

At the time of the ACE study primary care physicians indicated they knew adverse early childhood experiences contributed to chronic health conditions, but they simply did not know what to do about it. In addition to a lack of resources, they had a general concern the patient would simply fall apart when screened about their early childhood experiences.

What they found was the opposite. Clients were relieved to be able to share their experiences and no one declined the screening.

Initial Reports from the Study 

Initial reports from the participating facilities indicate the results have been more than they could have hoped for. Facilities are reporting:

  • Increase in patient engagement
  • Greater attendance to scheduled appointments
  • Improved communication between clients and health care providers


In addition, one facility even reported having success in decreasing the HIV viral load of some patients to the point where loads are undetectable.

In general patients are reporting elevated mood and engagement because they feel like they have a team of providers who care about them.

The large question remaining is if the trauma screening and interventions are creating significant enough impact to cause change in the overall health of the individual and thus change the overall cost of health care. My guess is this will be decades in the making to find out.

What are your thoughts? Do you think investing in treating underlying childhood maltreatment make sense from a healthcare perspective? From a financial prospective?




For more information on the treatment of trauma using integrative mental health strategies check out my Yoga for Mental Health Class and my upcoming speaking engagements.  Looking for individual services for you or your family?  Send me an inquiry from my website and I will look forward to connecting with you soon.

Until then, may you be kind to yourself and may you find the love, connection, wholeness and healing that you deserve.


Sarah Houy MA, LPC, RYT