Objective: Advocates must make decisions about the types of evidence they emphasize when communicating to cultivate support for adverse childhood experience (ACE) prevention policies. This study sought to characterize public perceptions of the persuasiveness of 12 ACE evidence statements and assess differences by ideology in the strength of these evidence messages as rationales for ACE prevention policies. Methods: A web-based survey of a nationally representative sample of US adults was conducted using the KnowledgePanel (N = 503, completion rate = 60.5%). Respondents read ACE evidence statements and answered questions about the extent to which each was perceived as persuasive. Data were collected and analyzed in 2019. Results: The evidence statements perceived as most persuasive (scoring range 3–17) were those about ACEs as risk factors for mental health and substance use conditions (mean = 12.39) and suicide (mean = 12.14); ACEs generating financial costs for society (mean = 12.03); and the consequences of ACEs being preventable by a supportive adult (mean = 11.97). The evidence statements perceived as least persuasive were about ACEs generating health care costs for individuals (mean = 9.42) and ACEs as risk factors for physical health conditions (mean = 9.47). A larger proportion of liberals than conservatives rated every statement as providing a “strong reason” for ACE prevention policies. These differences were largest for evidence about ACEs generating financial costs for society (84.6% vs 42.8%, P <.0001) and socioeconomic disparities in ACEs (65.1% vs 32.9%, P <.0001). Conclusions: Many ACE evidence statements commonly used in policy advocacy differ from those perceived as most persuasive among a nationally representative sample of US adults.
- adverse childhood experiences
- perceived message effectiveness
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health