Trauma-Informed Care in Primary Health Settings-Which Is Even More Needed in Times of COVID-19

Healthcare (Basel). 2020 Sep 14;8(3):340. doi: 10.3390/healthcare8030340.


Included in the general practitioner's (GP) core competencies is the ability to adopt a person-centered approach, and the use of the biopsychosocial model in their clinical work. Traumatic events (TEs) are frequently experienced within the population and are known to dysregulate the stress response system and to be associated with psychiatric and physical disorders. GPs may feel reluctant to confront TEs for a variety of reasons, such as a lack of sufficient training in trauma-informed care or a fear of causing harm when discussing a patient's more complicated issues, among others. This perspective paper aims to review the existing studies that support the practice of trauma-informed healthcare and to summarise best practices. Studies have shown that patients appreciate the questions that clinicians ask them about trauma-related issues and that they understand that this can be important for their healthcare. Furthermore, asking about trauma-related issues in a patient-centered and empathic way can result in better doctor-patient relationships, which improves the levels of satisfaction of both the patient and the doctor with the consultation, as well as improved health-related outcomes. As past traumatic experiences increase the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder on exposure to a new TE, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to trauma-informed care becoming even more important if the strategy is to continue to invest in preventive medicine.

Keywords: clinical communication; patient-centered; post-traumatic stress disorder; somatic comorbidity; traumatic events.