Stressors and symptoms associated with a history of adverse childhood experiences among older adolescents and young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic in Manitoba, Canada Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Introduction

    The COVID-19 pandemic has had major economic, social and psychological consequences for adolescents and young adults. It is unclear whether those with a history of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) were particularly vulnerable. We examined whether a history of ACEs was associated with financial difficulties, lack of emotional support, feeling stressed/anxious, feeling down/depressed, increased alcohol and/or cannabis use and increased conflict with parents, siblings and/or intimate partners among 16- to 21-year-olds during the pandemic.


    Data were collected in November and December 2020 from respondents aged 16 to 21 years (n = 664) participating in the longitudinal and intergenerational Well-being and Experiences Study (Wave 3) conducted in Manitoba, Canada. Age-stratified associations between ACEs and pandemic-related stressors/symptoms were examined with binary and multinomial logistic regression.


    A history of ACEs was associated with pandemic-related financial difficulties (adjusted relative risk ratio [aRRR] range: 2.44–7.55); lack of emotional support (aRRR range: 2.13–26.77); higher levels of feeling stressed/anxious and down/depressed (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] range: 1.78–5.05); increased alcohol and cannabis use (aOR range: 1.99–8.02); and increased relationship conflict (aOR range: 1.98–22.59). Fewer associations emerged for older adolescents and these were not to the same degree as for young adults.


    Adolescents and young adults with a history of ACEs reported increased odds of pandemic-related stressors and symptoms, and may need more resources and greater support compared to peers without an ACE history. Differences in results for adolescents and young adults suggest that interventions should be tailored to the needs of each age group.

publication date

  • October 2022