Positive childhood experiences and adult cardiovascular health


Han, Deborah; Deer, Lillybelle K.; Rivera, Kenia M.; & Doom, Jenalee R. (2024). Positive childhood experiences and adult cardiovascular health. Psychoneuroendocrinology. vol. 160


Background: As cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide, more research is needed on the psychosocial factors that can reduce CVD risk across development. One cross-sectional study demonstrated that retrospectively-reported positive childhood experiences (PCEs) are associated with lower CVD risk in adulthood (Slopen et al., 2017). The current study extends this research by examining prospective associations between PCEs assessed during adolescence and CVD risk in young adulthood.
Method: The current analyses used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, a nationally representative sample of adolescents followed into adulthood. The analytic sample (N= 13,567; 53% female) included participants who completed in-home interviews at Wave 1 (Mage= 16.07, SD= 1.69) and Wave 4 (Mage= 28.95, SD= 1.72). PCEs were assessed via 14 items in Wave 1, as adapted from the Benevolent Childhood Experiences scale-Revised (Narayan et al., 2018; e.g., whether individuals feel safe in their neighborhood or feel socially accepted). A 30-year CVD risk score was calculated in Wave 4 using a Framingham-based prediction model (Pencina et al., 2009). Covariates included gender, race/ethnicity, age at outcome, and childhood maltreatment (measured via retrospective reports of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse). Results: Linear regression analyses indicate that higher PCEs predicted lower CVD risk, even after controlling for covariates (β= -.047, p <.001).
Conclusion: Findings from these analyses highlight the importance of assessing and screening for PCEs. Future prevention efforts may focus on increasing PCEs to reduce adult CVD risk.




Cardiovascular disease

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title



Han, Deborah
Deer, Lillybelle K.
Rivera, Kenia M.
Doom, Jenalee R.

Year Published


Volume Number



February 01, 2024



Reference ID