Practice Considerations for Trauma-Informed Care at End of Life

J Soc Work End Life Palliat Care. 2020 Oct-Dec;16(4):313-329. doi: 10.1080/15524256.2020.1819939. Epub 2020 Sep 22.


Trauma is widespread, and its symptoms can adversely impact wellbeing at end of life, a time when hospice seeks to maximize quality of life. This article reviews research on trauma at end of life, provides an overview of trauma-informed principles, and explores possibilities for applying trauma-informed care through an illustrative case study of a patient at end of life. The case discussion applies findings from the literature using Feldman's Stepwise Psychosocial Palliative Care model as a roadmap. As shown in the case study, trauma-related symptoms may complicate care, making it an important subject of clinical attention for interdisciplinary hospice team members. As part of this team, social workers are particularly well suited to provide more targeted interventions where indicated, though all members of the team should take a trauma-informed approach. Lastly, this article reflects on the need for organizations to take a systems-level approach when implementing trauma-informed care and suggests implications for practice through a universal approach to trauma and the need for trauma-specific assessments and interventions at end-of-life, along with areas for future research.

Keywords: Hospice; palliative care; social work; trauma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Death
  • Hospice Care*
  • Hospices*
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care
  • Quality of Life