Exploring the test-retest differences of self-reported adverse childhood experiences among adolescents in residential treatment


The Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Questionnaire is one of the most widely used assessments for trauma exposure and adversity experienced during the first 18 years of life (Felitti et al., 1998; Kia-Keating et al., 2019). While the ACE Questionnaire has shown to have good reliability and validity, inconsistencies have been demonstrated for the test-retest form of reliability (MacKenzie et al., 2005; Pinto et al., 2014; Zanotti et al., 2018). To address the lack of consensus on the test-retest reliability of the ACE Questionnaire and the appropriateness for use with adolescents, the current study examined test-retest reliability of the ACE measure for a small group of adolescents in residential treatment. Participants (n = 20) completed the ACE during week 1 and were later assessed at week 9. The test-retest reliability of the ACE was very high (r = 0.913), thereby supporting the overall reliability of the ACE questionnaire and its effectiveness in identifying baseline trauma. However, the results indicate that adolescents might not fully understand their past trauma experiences prior to receiving trauma-focused treatment. Potential explanations of unreliable reporting of ACEs, counseling implications and recommendations for multiple administrations are discussed.

Publication Title

Journal of Family Trauma, Child Custody and Child Development