Adverse childhood experiences and associated health-risk behaviours in university students from the Republic of Moldova (2018)




This survey of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) was undertaken with 1534 university students aged 18–27 years from 14 universities in the Republic of Moldova. Students completed a self-report questionnaire on whether they had experienced ACEs, defined as both child maltreatment and household dysfunction, during the first 18 years of their life. The study shows that most respondents (59.6%) encountered one or more ACEs during the first 18 years and 12.5% reported four or more.

The most frequently reported types of negative childhood events were corporal punishment (20.2%), emotional abuse (15.1%) and emotional neglect (13%). The most prevalent types of household dysfunction identified were in the form of parental divorce or separation (19.5%), the presence of a family member who abused alcohol (14.9%) and witnessing the mother being treated violently (13.1%).

The association between experiencing ACEs and adopting risky health behaviours was strong. The risks of self-harm, drug and alcohol use, and smoking increased substantially in students with four or more ACEs. The study suggests there is a need for intersectoral action to prevent child maltreatment and other ACEs from occurring.