Trauma Informed Care

Reading Assignment

Matchinger, E, et al. From Treatment to Healing: Inquiry and Response to Recent and Past Trauma in Adult Health Care.  Women’s Health Issues, 29 (2)  2019

Context: This brief article by Matchinger et al describes a trauma-informed approach to inquiring about and responding to patients’ recent and past trauma.  It also provides an overview of the other principles of trauma-informed care.

GoalIdentify components of trauma-informed care and how they apply to inquiring and responding to patients’ previous traumatic experiences within the clinical encounter.  Compare and contrast universal screening, targeted screening, universal education, and universal trauma precautions.

Reflect: How have you seen inquiries about and responses to patients’ experiences of trauma approached in your clinical settings?  What has worked well?  What pitfalls have you seen?  Have you ever been screened for current or past trauma within a clinical encounter?  How have your personal experiences affected the way you approach these encounters with your own patients?

Online Module

Complete Aquifer Trauma-Informed Care: Module 06: Trauma-Informed Care: Practice Patient-Centered Communication and Care

Instructions: Access or set up an Aquifer account using your email address.  Complete the 4 cases of Module 06 of Trauma-Informed Care Course.  At the completion of each case, download the case summary PDF, which will summarize the key points of the case and provide you a document to upload as completion of the assignment in Canvas.  Credit for completion will be given when all 4 documents have been uploaded.

Context: Experiences of trauma can affect how patients engage with healthcare providers and how patients are affected by the healthcare encounter. These cases explore concepts of traumatic stress, universal trauma precautions, and other trauma-informed care principles.

Goal: Apply principles of trauma-informed care to the clinical encounter through exploring these four online cases.

Further learning: The entire Aquifer Trauma-Informed Care course is free to students, and contains excellent, clinically relevant information and skills.

Pre-class Required Reflection (bring written answers and a description of case to the small group discussionno submission is required) :

90% of adults have been exposed to trauma in their lives.  A history of trauma can affect how a patient engages with and/or experiences health and healthcare.

Please consider a case you have been involved in where you know or suspect that the patient may have been affected by past trauma, and consider:

  1. How did/may have trauma affect this patient’s health and wellbeing? Consider physical and emotional health, socioeconomic status including employment, relationships, outlook, health “behaviors”, etc.
  2. How did trauma affect this patient’s engagement in the healthcare system?  Consider access to care, followup, participation in care, communication style, behavior in the clinic, etc.
  3. How did trauma affect this patient’s experience of the healthcare encounter? Consider signs or symptoms of trauma that were apparent.
  4. What components of traumainformed care were implemented in the care of this patient? What worked well?  What didn’t work well?
  5. What components of trauma-informed care would have helped this patient or encounter?  What would have been different?
  6. What barriers did you or the team experience that interfered with implementing those aspects of trauma-informed care?  What additional skills or support do you feel you need in order to provide excellent traumainformed care?
  7. If relevant, how has your own personal experience of trauma, or personal experiences of team members, affected the way you engage with patients experiencing the effects of trauma? (Personal experiences will not be shared in class.)  
  8. How can implementation of trauma-informed care provide a safer, more responsive environment for providers as well as patients?

Optional reading:

  • Book: The Body Keeps The Score, Bessel Van Der Kolk MD.  The Body Keeps the Score” is a seminal work by one of the preeminent pioneers in trauma research and treatment. This essential book unites the evolving neuroscience of trauma research with an emergent wave of body-oriented therapies and traditional mind/body practices.”  
  •  Website and TED talk: The Trauma Stewardship Institute, Laara van Dernoot Lipsky. Offers “practical tools for cultivating the deep self-knowledge and systemic insights that are at the core of trauma stewardship.” Addresses self-care for those who care for others experiencing trauma.   Her 20 min TED talk “Beyond The Cliff” is a good introduction.
  • Article: “Violence Is a Public Health Problem”, American Public Health Association Policy Statement Nov 2018 . This 2018 policy statement looks at the rationale for viewing violence as a public health problem. Risk factors for and differential impacts of violence are reviewed. Successful public-health based intervention programs are discussed, and recommendations for physician practice, collaboration and advocacy are made. 
  • Book Chapter: Medical Management of Vulnerable and Underserved Patients: Principles, Practice and Populations, 2e.  Talmage and Wheeler.  “Chap 36: Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care”, Kimberg.
  • Database of Articles: Reducing Firearm Related Injuries and Deaths In the US: Annals of Internal Medicine database:
  • Website: King County Violence Prevention Resources:  Hosted by King County Public Health, this website has excellent general information on prevention of and resources for domestic violence, gun violence, trafficking and suicide.  Most resources are general or national, although some are King County specific. 


  1. PEARR tool”

Dignity Health tool outlining trauma-informed approach to identifying and responding to survivors of interpersonal trauma.

  1. Excellent Safety Planning worksheets in multiple languages.

Some of the worksheets include California specific resources, but all include general resources as well.

  1. Futures without Violence training videos on implementing universal education using wallet cards  and downloads (free) for wallet cards for many different populations (Note, in order to download, “add to cart” the pdfs you want, then “checkout” and you will be able to download for free)
  2. MyPlanApp: web or phone based app for patients to assess the safety of their relationship make plans to become safer, and to access resources: 
  3. State-by-State reporting requirements for violence towards adults
  4. Gun safe storage “Lock It Up” resources for physicians 

7. National hotlines

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
  • 1800-799-(SAFE) 7233 has online chat
  • National Human Trafficking Hotline
  • 1 (888) 373-7888 SMS: 233733 (Text “HELP” or “INFO”)
  • 200 languages available
  • Website: org
  • National Sexual Assault Hotlineof the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network
  • Call 1-800-656-4673
  • rainn.orgonline chat