Improving Medical Mission Volunteer Knowledge of Trauma-Informed Care

Date of Publication


Project Team

Dr. Melanie Keiffer, DNP, APRN, ANP-BC, CNE


Background: Trauma informed mental health care has been shown to improve trust between health care staff and patients. Purpose: This project developed and distributed an evidence-based trauma-informed care (TIC) curriculum to an interprofessional group of global health volunteer health care staff. The project aimed to provide a skillset for clinical staff to integrate therapeutic communication and TIC practice principles in ambulatory care. Six principles of TIC guided the project: safety, trustworthiness & transparency, peer support, collaboration & mutuality, empowerment & choice, and cultural, historical, and gender issues. Methods: Implementation included 1. determination of baseline knowledge of TIC, 2. distribution of TIC and a follow up survey & 3. evaluation of the educational initiative. Results: Participants reported improved knowledge of the life-long implications of trauma and its’ impact on patients’ mental health. Participants demonstrated increased competency in utilizing TIC approaches. Perceived barriers to use of TIC included a lack of training and lack of time. Conclusions: While the TIC curriculum improved participants’ knowledge of and competency in providing TIC, the overall impact of the project was limited by its small sample size and postponement of the medical mission trip due to Covid-19. Implications: Evidence-based tools for assessing, evaluating and communicating with patients who experience trauma exist. Educating global health volunteers with a TIC curriculum increases staff knowledge of mental health trauma and improves use of TIC competency with the aim of improving trusting relationships with patients who experience trauma. In addition to training, leadership and community support optimize the results of TIC approaches.

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