Survey of adverse childhood experiences and associated health-harming behaviours among Polish students (2018)
A cross-sectional survey was undertaken to estimate the prevalence of child maltreatment and other adverse childhood experiences, and their association with health-harming behaviours in Poland. The survey was conducted among 1760 randomly selected students from five purposefully selected Polish universities. Participants filled in the adverse childhood experiences survey instrument. The results showed that the prevalence of child maltreatment and other adverse childhood experiences was high: physical abuse was reported by 46%, emotional abuse by 42%, sexual abuse by 5% and emotional neglect by 25%. Household dysfunction was also high, with household street drug use reported by 3%, alcohol misuse by 21%, mental disorder by 19%, parental violence by 8% and household crime by 5%. Twenty-four per cent had not had any adverse childhood experience, while 19% reported that they had undergone four or more types of adverse childhood experiences. There was a significant association between adverse childhood experiences and health-harming behaviours such as suicide attempt, alcohol misuse, drug use, risky sexual behaviour and tobacco use. The findings suggest that there is a need to invest in prevention programming.