A great deal goes on in the short amount time a doctor or nurse spends with a patient. Given new research, doctors and nurses should be sure to ask their patients and families about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and traumatic stress reactions during their visit.

According to a study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, almost 50% of US children experience ACEs and these experiences can lead to "wide range of chronic health problems, including asthma, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, obesity and other health problems".  

So what can doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers do to help reduce traumatic stress reactions in their pediatric patients and families? Especially when time is already stretched thin? Using brief assessments, like the DEF Protocol, doctors and nurses can identify, prevent, and treat traumatic stress reactions at the time of need and within the scope of practice.


The DEF protocol helps providers shift to a trauma informed practice, which incorporates an understanding of traumatic stress and related responses into routine encounters with children and families. In other words, it provides a framework for providers to switch their practice from asking "what's wrong with you" to "what happened to you" and further address psychosocial issues and traumatic stress reactions possibly affecting the child and family.