Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Prevalence of Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs): About 53.1% of adults reported experiencing six to seven PCEs, while 12.2% reported two or fewer, indicating a varied prevalence across the population.
  2. Sociodemographic Disparities: PCEs varied significantly by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Lower PCE scores were more common among minority and low-income groups.
  3. Impact of PCEs on Health: High levels of PCEs were associated with better adult mental and relational health, and lower prevalence of risky behaviors like smoking and unhealthy alcohol use.
  4. Public Health Implications: The study emphasizes the importance of integrating PCE data into public health surveillance to inform well-being promotion and reduce health disparities.
  5. Recommendations for Enhancing PCEs: Public policies supporting family bonding, community engagement, and educational opportunities are critical for increasing PCEs among vulnerable populations.

Original Article Author and Citation

Corresponding Author

Robert Sege, MD, PhD –

Suggested Citation

Sege R, Swedo EA, Burstein D, et al. Prevalence of Positive Childhood Experiences Among Adults — Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Four States, 2015–2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2024;73:399–404. DOI:


This MMWR article summarizes a population-based study on the prevalence of positive childhood experiences (PCEs) among adults in four U.S. states using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) from 2015 to 2021. The report highlights that a significant portion of the adult population reports experiencing multiple PCEs, which are crucial for healthy development and adult well-being.


The study utilized data from the BRFSS, a state-based telephone survey, covering four states: Kansas, Montana, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. Researchers analyzed responses to seven PCE-related questions, focusing on family and community environments before the age of 18.


Significant disparities in PCE prevalence are noted across different sociodemographic groups, suggesting that less privileged groups have fewer positive experiences in childhood. This disparity has broader implications for public health, particularly in mental health and social stability.


The study concludes that enhancing PCEs through supportive public policies and community programs could mitigate adult health disparities and promote a healthier society overall. The integration of PCE data into broader public health surveillance could further enhance these efforts.

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