A synthesis of the literature on trauma-informed care

Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2015;36(9):698-709. doi: 10.3109/01612840.2015.1025319.


Patients with a history of traumatic life events can become distressed or re-traumatized as the result of healthcare experiences. These patients can benefit from trauma-informed care that is sensitive to their unique needs. However, despite the widespread prevalence of traumatic life experiences such as sexual assault and intimate partner violence, trauma-informed care has not been widely researched or implemented. The purpose of this synthesis of the literature is to examine existing research on trauma-informed care for survivors of physical and sexual abuse. The following themes are discussed: trauma screening and patient disclosure, provider-patient relationships, minimizing distress and maximizing autonomy, multidisciplinary collaboration and referrals, and trauma-informed care in diverse settings. This synthesis also explores implications for trauma-informed care research, practice and policy. The themes identified here could be used as a framework for creating provider and survivor educational interventions and for implementing trauma-informed care across disciplines. The findings of this synthesis support further research on patient and provider experiences of trauma-informed care, and research to test the efficacy of trauma-informed care interventions across healthcare settings. Universal implementation of trauma-informed care can ensure that the unique needs of trauma survivors as patients are met, and mitigate barriers to care and health disparities experienced by this vulnerable population.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Disclosure
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Patients
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Sex Offenses
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Survivors