Trauma-informed care in inpatient mental health settings: a review of the literature

Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2014 Feb;23(1):51-9. doi: 10.1111/inm.12012. Epub 2013 Jan 30.


Trauma-informed care is an emerging value that is seen as fundamental to effective and contemporary mental health nursing practice. Trauma-informed care, like recovery, leaves mental health nurses struggling to translate these values into day-to-day nursing practice. Many are confused about what individual actions they can take to support these values. To date, the most clearly articulated policy to emerge from the trauma-informed care movement in Australia has been the agreement to reduce, and wherever possible, eliminate the use of seclusion and restraint. Confronted with the constant churn of admissions and readmissions of clients with challenging behaviours, and seemingly intractable mental illness, the elimination of seclusion and restraint is seen to be utopian by many mental health nurses in inpatient settings. Is trauma-informed care solely about eliminating seclusion and restraint, or are there other tangible practices nurses could utilize to effect better health outcomes for mental health clients, especially those with significant abuse histories? This article summarizes the findings from the literature from 2000-2011 in identifying those practices and clinical activities that have been implemented to effect trauma-informed care in inpatient mental health settings.

Keywords: inpatient mental health; psychiatric care; seclusion and restraint; therapeutic intervention; trauma-informed care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / psychology
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Mental Disorders / nursing*
  • Psychiatric Nursing / methods*