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Building Infrastructure for Surveillance of Adverse and Positive Childhood Experiences: Integrated, Multimethod Approaches to Generate Data for Prevention Action

Kayla N. Anderson, PhD, Elizabeth A. Swedo, MD, MPH, Heather B. Clayton, PhD,
Phyllis Holditch Niolon, PhD, Daniel Shelby, MPH, Kathleen McDavid Harrison, PhD – 2022

Adverse and positive childhood experiences have a profound impact on lifespan health and well-being. However, their incorporation into ongoing population-based surveillance systems has been limited. This paper outlines critical steps in building a comprehensive approach to adverse and positive childhood experiences surveillance, provides examples from the Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences: Data to Action cooperative agreement, and describes improvements needed to optimize surveillance data for action. Components of a comprehensive approach to adverse and positive childhood experiences surveillance include revisiting definitions and measurement, including generating and using uniform definitions for adverse and positive childhood experiences across data collection efforts; conducting youth-based surveillance of adverse and positive childhood experiences; using innovative methods to gather and analyze near real-time data; leveraging available data, including from administrative sources; and integrating data on community- and societal-level risk and protective factors for adverse childhood experiences, including social and health inequities such as racism and poverty, as well as policies and conditions that create healthy environments for children and families. Comprehensive surveillance data on adverse and positive childhood experiences can inform data-driven prevention and intervention efforts, including focusing prevention programming and services to populations in greatest need. Data can be used to evaluate progress in reducing the occurrence of adverse childhood experiences and bolstering the occurrence of positive childhood experiences. Through expansion and improvement in adverse and positive childhood experiences surveillance-including at federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local levels-data-driven action can reduce children’s exposure to violence and other adversities and improve lifelong health and well-being. (Author abstract)