Trauma-informed knowledge, awareness, practice, competence and confidence of rural health staff: A descriptive study

Kaye Ervin, Carol Reid, Tegan Podubinski, Jacquie Phillips


Background and objective: By adopting a trauma-informed approach to care at the organisational and clinical levels, health care systems and providers can enhance the quality of care that they deliver and improve health outcomes for individuals with a trauma history. This study aimed to explore the trauma-related knowledge, attitudes awareness, practice, competence and confidence of health service staff from three small rural health services in Victoria, Australia, and examine their self-reported capacity to respond to clients with a trauma history.

Methods: Staff from each site were invited to complete a paper-based survey. The survey included demographic information and questions related to knowledge and understanding of trauma, experience of trauma-informed care and confidence engaging in, and perceived importance of, trauma-informed practices. 

Results: The respondents were predominately nurses. Results showed that 16% of respondents had undertaken training in trauma-informed care and 44% disagreed that they had an understanding of trauma-informed practices. There were high levels of agreement for statements related to knowledge and understanding of trauma and low levels of agreement with statements related to experience of trauma-informed care. More than 70% of respondents reported that they had little knowledge of the principals of trauma-informed care, and little experiencing with practicing trauma-informed care.

Discussion and conclusions: Overall, the survey results showed that staff were trauma-aware, but supported the need for more education and training in trauma-informed practices and improved organisational approaches to support trauma-informed approaches. It is important for organisations to shift from being trauma aware to being trauma-informed, by building foundational awareness of these practices and reinforcement through continuing education.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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