Pediatric nurses tuned in to trauma-informed care

January 22, 2015

Pediatric trauma nurses are well-versed in practicing trauma-informed care to reduce post-traumatic stress in sick and injured children, but they could use more training in helping families cope, a new study reports.

Pediatric trauma nurses are well-versed in practicing trauma-informed care to prevent or reduce posttraumatic stress in sick and injured children, but they could use more training in helping families cope, a new study reports.

Trauma-informed care includes recognizing preexisting trauma, addressing acute traumatic stress reactions, minimizing potentially traumatic aspects of treatment, and identifying children who need further monitoring or referrals for help. The study surveyed 232 nurses from 5 level-I and level-II pediatric trauma centers about their knowledge, opinions, self-reported competence, and current practice regarding trauma-informed care.

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Most respondents were knowledgeable and had favorable opinions about trauma-informed care. Most rated themselves as moderately competent in a variety of relevant skills. More than 90% said they recognize the importance of addressing psychosocial needs in the context of trauma care; 75% to 80% said they encourage parents to turn to family and friends for support and help parents deal with their child’s pain and fear during procedures. Significantly fewer reported that they ask children and parents directly about their emotional responses to trauma and offer specific education about coping with upsetting situations.

The survey findings suggest that measures to improve trauma-informed pediatric care should emphasize specific skills necessary to help patients and parents manage their emotional reactions to difficult medical circumstances, the researchers say.

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