Trauma informed care goes beyond screening patients and caregivers for traumatic stress or adverse childhood experiences. It goes beyond providing a referral for mental health services. While such actions do help children and families, trauma informed care should be thought of as a framework or lens to guide all your patient interactions. Why?
Patients and families are perceptive. While the words you use might be trauma informed, if your actions, however subtle, aren't, it's likely your patients will pick up on the disconnection. A new white paper published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, suggests implicit bias can make a difference in how your patients perceive their care. Implicit bias means to subconsciously treat one person differently from another. In the paper, it states when patients "who felt that they had experienced bias based on factors like race, income or insurance were less likely to follow advice about medication, for instance, and ended up sicker in the long run." Beyond the doctor-patient interactions, Chris Duke, director of Altarum’s Center for Consumer Choice in Health Care, reminds hospital systems that the environment impacts patients as well:
“If you are a lower-income racial minority, and you walk into a hospital and none of the pictures of people look like you, and none of the staff looks like you, you may not feel welcome,” Duke said. “People need to feel welcome for them to trust information, and trust guidance.”
What can doctors and nurses do, on an individual level, to improve their interactions with patients? Being mindful of your words and actions, and learning more about what it means to be trauma informed, will positively impact doctor-patient relationship. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and share your trauma informed care tips to improve patient care!