Adverse childhood experiences among black sexually minoritized men and Black transgender women in Chicago

Christoffer Dharma, Katherine M. Keyes, Kara E. Rudolph, Cho Hee Shrader, Yen Tyng Chen, John Schneider, Dustin T. Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are important predictors of mental health outcomes in adulthood. However, commonly used ACE measures such as the Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) have not been validated among Black sexually minoritized men (SMM) nor transgender women (TW), whom are known to have higher rates of ACE and poorer mental health outcomes. Assessing the psychometric properties of the measure is important for health equity research, as measurements that are not valid for some populations will render uninterpretable results. Methods: Data are drawn from the Neighborhoods and Networks (N2) study, a longitudinal cohort of Black SMM and TW living in Southern Chicago. We conducted confirmatory factor analysis, correlation analysis and a two-parameter Item Response Theory (IRT) on the BRFSS ACE measure, an 11-item measure with 8 domains of ACE. Results: One hundred forty seven participants (85% cisgender male) completed the BRFSS ACE measurement in the N2 study with age ranges from 16–34. The cohort were from a low socioeconomic background: about 40% of the cohort were housing insecure and made than $10,000 or less annually. They also have a high number of ACEs; 34% had endorsed 4 or more ACE domains. The three-factor structure fit the BRFSS ACE measure best; the measurement consisted of three subscales: of “Household Dysfunction”, “Emotional / Physical”, and “Sexual Abuse” (CFI = 0.975, TLI = 0.967, and RMSEA = 0.051). When the 8 domains of ACE were summed to one score, the total score was is correlated with depressive symptoms and anxiety scores, establishing concurrent validity. Item Response Theory model indicated that the “parental separation” domain had a low discrimination (slope) parameter, suggesting that this domain does not distinguish well between those with and without high ACE. Conclusions: The BRFFS ACE measure had adequate reliability, a well-replicated structure and some moderate evidence of concurrent validity among Black SMM and TW. The parental separation domain does not discriminate between those with high and low ACE experiences in this population. With changing population demographics and trends in marriage, further examination of this item beyond the current study is warranted to improve health equity research for all.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number74
JournalInternational Journal for Equity in Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Adverse childhood experiences among black sexually minoritized men and Black transgender women in Chicago'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this