School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)


Kelly Gorbett





Despite the literature that exists on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) related to relationships and mental health outcomes, there is a gap that exists in how community involvement can be a moderating factor. Studies do not address how extended family and community influence childhood development as it relates to mental health outcomes. This study is a mixed-method research design. Participants included 61 individuals with at least 1 ACE score and who were at least 18 years of age. They were recruited through social media sharing. Phase 1 assessed demographics, ACE scores, depression and anxiety severity, involvement with a service-based community, and self-perceived relationship quality with natural community. Phase 2 was an open-ended questionnaire on lived experiences related to natural and service-based communities. There were 20 participants that were randomly selected for analysis. This study utilized a moderation analysis for Phase 1 and a narrative analysis for Phase 2. The relationships showed that the community can moderate the relationship between ACEs and mental health severity, specifically anxiety severity scores. The narrative analysis identified common themes of perceptions on community impacts on mental health such as supportive, knowledgeable, distrust, and avoidance. Furthermore, the results suggest that there is a need for additional programs, policies, screening, and prevention to support communities that have faced trauma. This can provide safeguard programs for community involvement and educate policymakers and preventionists. Furthermore, faith-based programs can integrate this knowledge to better support their communities and uplift them.

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Psychology Commons