Adverse Childhood Experiences among Veterinary Medical Students: A Multi-Site Study. Academic Article uri icon


  • This research explores Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) among veterinary medical students across six academic institutions of veterinary medicine, and their relationship with depression, stress, and desire to become a veterinarian. Between April 1, 2016, and May 23, 2016, 1,118 veterinary medical students in all 4 years of the curriculum (39% response rate) completed an anonymous web-based questionnaire about ACEs, depression using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale (CESD), stress using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and the age at which they wanted to become a veterinarian. Sixty-one percent (677) of respondents reported having at least one ACE. The most prevalent ACE reported was living with a household member with a mental illness (31%). Students who had experienced four or more ACEs had an approximately threefold increase in signs of clinical depression and higher than average stress when compared to students who had experienced no ACEs. The number of ACEs showed an overall graded relationship to signs of clinical depression and higher than average stress. There was no statistically significant relationship between age at which a student wanted to become a veterinarian and exposure to ACEs. Veterinary students report being exposed to ACEs before age 18 at a rate similar to that of other population-based studies. These findings do not suggest that veterinary students enter the veterinary medical education system more at risk for poor mental health due to ACEs than the general population.

published proceedings

  • J Vet Med Educ

author list (cited authors)

  • Strand, E. B., Brandt, J., Rogers, K., Fonken, L., Chun, R., Conlon, P., & Lord, L.

citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors

  • Strand, Elizabeth B||Brandt, Jennifer||Rogers, Kenita||Fonken, Laurie||Chun, Ruthanne||Conlon, Peter||Lord, Linda

publication date

  • May 2017