Peer Relations of Adolescents with Adverse Childhood Experiences: A Systematic Literature Review of Two Decades

Joy Huanhuan Wang, Gabriel J. Merrin, Sarah M. Kiefer, Jesseca L. Jackson, Paige L. Huckaby, Lauren A. Pascarella, Corinne L. Blake, Michael D. Gomez, Nicholas D.W. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


There is a need for a systematic understanding of how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) affect peer relationships during adolescence and the subsequent effects on youth well-being. This study conducted a systematic literature review of the two decades (1999–2019) following the CDC-Kaiser ACE study (1998). The review included 11 ACEs (i.e., 10 ACEs from the CDC-Kaiser ACE study plus child welfare involvement) and searched five databases (i.e., Embase, ERIC, PsycINFO, PTSDpubs, and PubMed). Ninety-two studies were included. The findings indicated that ACEs were differentially associated with six aspects of peer relationships: (1) ACEs were negatively associated with peer relation quantity and peer status; (2) ACEs were not significantly related to peer support; (3) associations of ACEs with peer relationship quality and peer characteristics included negative and nonsignificant findings; and (4) relations between ACEs and peer influence appeared contradictory (i.e., positive and negative associations). Additionally, various aspects of peer relationships further affected the well-being of youth with ACEs. The findings call for more attention to the associations between ACEs and adolescent peer relationships. Longitudinal studies that examine change over time, potential mechanisms, and moderating factors in the associations between ACEs and peer relations are needed to clarify the heterogeneity of findings across the six aspects of peer relations. Lastly, the findings suggest a potential expansion of the trauma-informed care principle by considering multiple facets of peer relationships beyond peer support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdolescent Research Review
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Adolescent development
  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Peer relationships
  • Systematic review
  • Trauma-informed care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Peer Relations of Adolescents with Adverse Childhood Experiences: A Systematic Literature Review of Two Decades'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this