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This report marks an important moment in the growing understanding of childhood experiences. This report signals that PCEs have become important public health data that can be collected and used to improve population health. Robert Sege, MD, PhD, FAAP

Positive childhood experiences are common but not equally available to everyone

Screenshot of the first page of the paper.

Positive childhood experiences (PCEs) promote optimal health and mitigate the effects of adverse childhood experiences, but PCE prevalence in the United States is not well-known. Prevalence of Positive Childhood Experiences Among Adults — Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Four States, 2015–2021, a study conducted by HOPE Directors Robert Sege, MD, PhD and Dina Burstein, MD, PhD and colleagues, describes the prevalence of individual and cumulative PCEs among adults residing in four states: Kansas, Montana, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.

Using the states’ Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data, the investigators analyzed PCE survey responses from over 24,000 adults who represent a total population of 15 million people. They found that more than half of adults reported a high level of PCEs in their BRFSS responses, and less than 2 of 10 adults reported a low PCE score. However, PCE scores differed when accounting for demographic and socioeconomic factors. For example, 38% of gay or lesbian adults and 27% of bisexual adults reported high PCE scores versus 55% of heterosexual adult. This new multi-state BRFSS study opens the door for further research on PCEs.

Publication Information


Robert Sege, MD, PhD, FAAP*, Elizabeth A. Swedo, MD, Dina Burstein, MD, PhD, FAAP*, Maria V. Aslam, PhD, Jennifer Jones, MSWChristina Bethell, PhDPhyllis Holditch Niolon

*Affiliated with the HOPE National Resource Center


Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Publication Date

May 2, 2024


positive childhood experiences, PCEs, adult health, relational health, adverse childhood experiences, ACEs, behavioral risk factor surveillance system, BRFS, BRFSS, health equity


Sege R, Swedo EA, Burstein D, Aslam MV, Jones J, Bethell C, Niolon PH. Prevalence of Positive Childhood Experiences Among Adults — Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Four States, 2015–2021. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2024 May 2. 73(17): 399-404. DOI: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7317a3


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