The core element of the ACEs Aware initiative is the ability of clinical teams to take a free, online training on the fundamentals of ACEs and toxic stress and become certified to receive Medi-Cal payment for screening children and adults for ACEs during primary care visits.
In July, we released data reports highlighting the number of people who completed the “Becoming ACEs Aware in California” training and documenting the number of child and adult Medi-Cal beneficiaries who have been screened for ACEs. To date, more than 20,500 California clinicians have completed the training, and more than 500,000 children and adults across the state have been screened for ACEs.
- Of the unique beneficiaries screened, 6 percent had an ACE score of four or greater, indicating a high risk for toxic stress.
- Upon completion of the training, 81 percent of participants who were not previously screening for ACEs indicated that they planned to begin screening.
- 97 percent of training participants indicated that the training convinced them to implement changes in their practices, or reinforced existing trauma-informed care practices.
One of the goals of the initiative is to broaden clinician engagement beyond primary care settings. Since the launch of ACEs Aware, we have seen significant increases in diversification among provider specialties.
Coping with Toxic Stress During the Pandemic
The ACEs Aware initiative offers many practical applications to address the toxic stress response resulting from ACEs, but we know that toxic stress can occur at any age and for reasons other than ACEs. After witnessing the traumatic loss of his family dog early last year, Orange County pediatrician Dr. Eric Ball shared an intimate reflection on how trauma affects the body and how to build resilience in the face of adversity. Adversity affects everyone, and ACE research shows how the negative effects of stress can be mitigated by supportive relationships and stress-busting techniques, such as mindfulness, healthy eating, and regular exercise.
The events of the past two years have brought the far-reaching impact of systemic racism and inequity into even sharper focus. ACEs Aware has invested resources in exploring the science around exposure to racism and discrimination as risk factors for toxic stress. In April, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris and Dr. Ray Bignall hosted a thought-provoking webinar that examined how exposure to racism and other forms of discrimination can serve as risk factors for the toxic stress response and also contribute to the development of ACE-Associated Health Conditions.
Advancing the State of CAre
To expand the reach and impact of ACEs Aware, we launched our “State of CAre” provider engagement campaign in May, using digital and print media to raise awareness about ACEs and the long-term health effects they can have on children and adults. We used various media platforms to promote our message, including a public service announcement featuring Dr. Nadine Burke Harris that received more than 6.7 million views. We also sent consumer- and provider-facing materials, including an exam room poster in English and Spanish, to more than 90,000 Medi-Cal providers.