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January 2016

Implementing a Trauma-Informed Approach in Pediatric Health Care Networks

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Injury Research and Prevention, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 3Department of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 4Center for Pediatric Traumatic Stress, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 5Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 6Department of Psychology, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(1):70-77. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.2206

Pediatric health care networks serve millions of children each year. Pediatric illness and injury are among the most common potentially emotionally traumatic experiences for children and their families. In addition, millions of children who present for medical care (including well visits) have been exposed to prior traumatic events, such as violence or natural disasters. Given the daily challenges of working in pediatric health care networks, medical professionals and support staff can experience trauma symptoms related to their work. The application of a trauma-informed approach to medical care has the potential to mitigate these negative consequences. Trauma-informed care minimizes the potential for medical care to become traumatic or trigger trauma reactions, addresses distress, provides emotional support for the entire family, encourages positive coping, and provides anticipatory guidance regarding the recovery process. When used in conjunction with family-centered practices, trauma-informed approaches enhance the quality of care for patients and their families and the well-being of medical professionals and support staff. Barriers to routine integration of trauma-informed approaches into pediatric medicine include a lack of available training and unclear best-practice guidelines. This article highlights the importance of implementing a trauma-informed approach and offers a framework for training pediatric health care networks in trauma-informed care practices.

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