Trauma-informed Care Interventions in Emergency Medicine: A Systematic Review
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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Trauma-informed Care Interventions in Emergency Medicine: A Systematic Review


Introduction: Trauma exposure is a highly prevalent experience for patients and clinicians in emergency medicine (EM). Trauma-informed care (TIC) is an effective framework to mitigate the negative health impacts of trauma. This systematic review synthesizes the range of TIC interventions in EM, with a focus on patient and clinician outcomes, and identifies gaps in the current research on implementing TIC. 

Methods: The study was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42020205182). We systematically searched peer-reviewed journals and abstracts in the PubMed, EMBASE (Elsevier), PsycINFO (EBSCO), Social Services Abstract (ProQuest), and CINAHL (EBSCO) databases from 1990 onward on August 12, 2020. We analyzed studies describing explicit TIC interventions in the ED setting using inductive qualitative content analysis to identify recurrent themes and identify unique trauma-informed interventions in each study. Studies not explicitly citing TIC were excluded. Studies were assessed for bias using the Newcastle-Ottawa criteria and Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) Checklist. 

Results: We identified a total of 1,372 studies and abstracts, with 10 meeting inclusion criteria for final analysis. Themes within TIC interventions that emerged included educational interventions, collaborations with allied health professionals and community organizations, and patient and clinician safety interventions. Educational interventions included lectures, online modules, and standardized patient exercises. Collaborations with community organizations focused on addressing social determinants of health. All interventions suggested a positive impact from TIC on either clinicians or patients, but outcomes data remain limited. 

Conclusion: Trauma-informed care is a nascent field in EM with limited operationalization of TIC approaches. Future studies with patient and clinician outcomes analyzing universal TIC precautions and systems-level interventions are needed.

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