When a child and family enter a hospital or medical setting, many factors contribute to their perception of trauma and their reactions to it. Developmental age, prior medical experiences, previous non-medical trauma can all contribute to their reactions. As can their cultural background.
How does a child and family’s cultural background influence their perception and reaction to medical trauma?
- Vulnerability to trauma and traumatic stress
- Expression of distress and trauma symptoms
- Response to trauma treatment
- Help-seeking behaviors
- Communication with and between family members
- Willingness to disclose psychosocial information
For doctors and nurses, keeping in mind the following will help ensure you’re providing not only trauma informed, but also culturally competent care to your pediatric patients and families:
- Recognize the cultural variations in the perception of trauma and traumatic stress responses.
- Ask children and families about what the trauma means to them, and incorporate these beliefs in assessment and treatment.
- Listen to and integrate the child or family's own terms for what they are experiencing.
- Understand how your helping role is perceived and family dynamics and decision-making.
- Be open to including kinship networks and other types of healing professionals or practices that the family views as helpful.
- Remember and respect that some children's and families' interpretations, experiences, and practices may differ from your own.