New Commentary in Women's Health Issues: Trauma-Informed Primary Care

Media Contact: Kathy Fackelmann, kfackelmann@gwu.edu, 202-994-8354

WASHINGTON, DC (May 6, 2015) — Patients with a history of trauma can benefit from working with healthcare providers who understand trauma’s role in health and can offer resources to assist with healing. A commentary published today in the journal Women's Health Issues proposes an approach to providing such trauma-informed primary care (TIPC).  Edward L. Machtinger, MD, director of the Women’s HIV Program (WHP) at the University of California, San Francisco, and his co-authors identify four core components of a TIPC approach: environment, screening, response, and a robust organizational foundation.

Women’s Health Issues is the official journal of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, which is based at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.  The commentary, "From Treatment to Healing: The Promise of Trauma-Informed Primary Care," appears in the May/June edition of Women’s Health Issues. To develop the proposed framework, Machtinger and his colleagues drew on the work of the National Strategy Group to Develop a Model of Trauma-informed Primary Care, which WHP and the Positive Women’s Network—USA convened in 2013.

Trauma is an especially important factor in women’s health. The landmark Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study found that women were more likely than men to report a high number of adverse childhood experiences (including physical or sexual abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction). As adults, many women experience physical violence and/or rape from an intimate partner. 

For primary-care practices seeking to become trauma-informed, Machtinger and his colleagues recommend getting training on trauma and health for all staff members and creating a physical space that provides opportunities for privacy, confidentiality, and community. They suggest that practices routinely screen patients for trauma and, when patients disclose trauma, be prepared to respond supportively and offer specific steps such as safety assessments and referrals for community resources.  A strong organizational foundation that includes respect for patient choices, support for staff, and local partnerships is essential, the authors explain. Practices adopting this kind of trauma-informed approach can partner effectively with trauma survivors for better health outcomes and quality of life, the authors say.

 

About Women’s Health Issues:
Women's Health Issues is the official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, and the only journal devoted exclusively to women's health care and policy issues. The journal has a particular focus on women's issues in the context of the U.S. health care delivery system and policymaking processes, although it invites submissions addressing women's health care issues in global context if relevant to North American readers. It is a journal for health professionals, social scientists, policymakers, and others concerned with the complex and diverse facets of health care delivery and policy for women. For more information about the journal, please visit http://www.whijournal.com.

About Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University:
Established in July 1997 as the School of Public Health and Health Services, Milken Institute School of Public Health is the only school of public health in the nation’s capital. Today, more than 1,700 students from almost every U.S. state and 39 countries pursue undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level degrees in public health. The school also offers an online Master of Public Health, MPH@GW, and an online Executive Master of Health Administration, MHA@GW, which allow students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.