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JOURNAL ARTICLE

The 'Maltreatment and Abuse Chronology of Exposure' (MACE) scale for the retrospective assessment of abuse and neglect during development

Martin H Teicher, Angelika Parigger
PloS One 2015, 10 (2): e0117423
25714856
There is increasing interest in childhood maltreatment as a potent stimulus that may alter trajectories of brain development, induce epigenetic modifications and enhance risk for medical and psychiatric disorders. Although a number of useful scales exist for retrospective assessment of abuse and neglect they have significant limitations. Moreover, they fail to provide detailed information on timing of exposure, which is critical for delineation of sensitive periods. The Maltreatment and Abuse Chronology of Exposure (MACE) scale was developed in a sample of 1051 participants using item response theory to gauge severity of exposure to ten types of maltreatment (emotional neglect, non-verbal emotional abuse, parental physical maltreatment, parental verbal abuse, peer emotional abuse, peer physical bullying, physical neglect, sexual abuse, witnessing interparental violence and witnessing violence to siblings) during each year of childhood. Items included in the subscales had acceptable psychometric properties based on infit and outfit mean square statistics, and each subscale passed Andersen's Likelihood ratio test. The MACE provides an overall severity score and multiplicity score (number of types of maltreatment experienced) with excellent test-retest reliability. Each type of maltreatment showed good reliability as did severity of exposure across each year of childhood. MACE Severity correlated 0.738 with Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) score and MACE Multiplicity correlated 0.698 with the Adverse Childhood Experiences scale (ACE). However, MACE accounted for 2.00- and 2.07-fold more of the variance, on average, in psychiatric symptom ratings than CTQ or ACE, respectively, based on variance decomposition. Different types of maltreatment had distinct and often unique developmental patterns. The 52-item MACE, a simpler Maltreatment Abuse and Exposure Scale (MAES) that only assesses overall exposure and the original test instrument (MACE-X) with several additional items plus spreadsheets and R code for scoring are provided to facilitate use and to spur further development.

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