Integrating play in trauma-informed care: Multidisciplinary pediatric healthcare provider perspectives

Psychol Serv. 2019 Feb;16(1):7-15. doi: 10.1037/ser0000294. Epub 2018 Nov 15.


Children and their family members may experience potentially traumatic events during medical treatment that can result in pediatric medical traumatic stress reactions. Play is a normative part of childhood that may facilitate engagement in medical care and may be incorporated in trauma-informed care. This qualitative study used semistructured interviews to examine the role of play and its potential use in trauma-informed care. The perspectives of 30 multidisciplinary pediatric healthcare providers representing 5 divisions (Cardiology, Endocrinology, Oncology, Orthopedics, Pulmonology) in 2 children's hospitals were gathered. Constant comparison and directed content analysis were used to analyze the data. Themes and subthemes were derived in 3 areas: (a) aspects of pediatric medical care that are potentially traumatic (specific events; and physical, emotional, and family-level consequences), (b) uses of play in pediatric healthcare settings (general [relieve boredom] and trauma-specific [prevention/alleviation]), and (c) potential barriers to the use of play in trauma-informed care (infection control; lack of provider training). The results document aspects of pediatric medical experiences that providers recognize as potentially traumatic, highlighting the importance of trauma-informed care. They also identify ways to use play to engage with children and families in a trauma-informed way. Additional training and development regarding play may increase the viability of using play in trauma-informed pediatric healthcare. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Health Services*
  • Child, Hospitalized* / psychology
  • Hospitals, Pediatric*
  • Humans
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Personnel, Hospital*
  • Play and Playthings* / psychology
  • Psychological Trauma / therapy*

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