• Trauma-Informed Care

    Exposure to trauma – such as intimate partner violence, sexual violence, abuse, systemic racism, acts of terrorism, war, and natural disasters – at any stage of life can have serious and lasting effects on physical and mental health. Trauma-informed care (TIC) is a whole-person approach to health care that acknowledges the impact of trauma on health and facilitates long-term engagement in care that is inherently patient-centered. Trauma-informed workplace policies can also lead to greater overall support for the wellbeing and satisfaction of family physicians and their care team.

    The key principles of TIC include:

    1. Realizing the widespread impact of trauma within a patient panel and in the general population.
    2. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of trauma in patients and their families, as well as the signs and symptoms of trauma in family physicians and clinical care team members.
    3. Responding to the widespread impact of trauma by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices.
    4. Resisting retraumatization in care delivery by actively seeking to develop systems and individual practices that are trauma-sensitive and patient-centered.

    Providing TIC does not require individuals to disclose their specific trauma history. Family physicians should approach TIC itself as a universal precaution by utilizing trauma-informed practices in all patient interactions, even if a patient’s experiences with trauma are unknown. The AAFP urges its members to understand and incorporate TIC into clinical practice. Medical schools and residencies should include instruction in trauma-informed care practices.

    (January 2022 COD)