I think most medical providers enter their profession because they have a desire to help people through providing the best in medical care. However, there is a largely ignored problem that is at the basis of a large number of medical issues, but also the way that medical care is utilized and approached by patients. To ignore this mammoth issue is to address the symptoms, but not the cause.
Trauma has been strongly correlated with a number of chronic conditions, including diabetes, obesity, chronic fatigue, asthma, heart disease, sleep apnea, etc. Trauma affects not just the mind, but also the body. To address trauma is also to address physical problems.
Not only is it important to address trauma as one of the major root causes of physical issues, it’s also important to understand how trauma affects medical care. A patient’s trauma can affect their ability to feel comfortable seeking out and talking to a medical provider. Trauma can also affect a patient’s outlook on their treatment and prognosis.
Here are a few ways that trauma can interfere with patient care:
- A patient might feel uncomfortable talking about certain symptoms or parts of the body due to trauma.
- You might not get enough information from a patient due to body posture, words used, or inherent qualities about you as a medical provider that remind the patient of their trauma.
- Certain medical procedures, even seemingly routine ones such as taking blood pressure or weighing a patient, might be triggering to the patient, resulting in a shutdown of communication.
- How your office, waiting room, or examination area is set up can affect a patient on a visceral level and remind them of traumatic experiences. If they have experienced medical trauma, even just being in a medical setting can be extremely stressful. Even changing furniture can feel alarming to patients who have experienced severe trauma related to transitions.
Addressing trauma in a medical setting is not as difficult as it might seem. If you have a chance to take a course in trauma-informed care, that can be a great start to learn more about how to address a history of trauma in your patients. If you are unable to find training in trauma-informed care related to medical providers, you can seek out a consultant to help you develop ways to make your practice more trauma-informed. Seek out colleagues who have had success in making their practice more trauma-informed and consult with them about best practices.
Some of the benefits of making your medical practice more trauma-informed:
- Better rapport with your patients.
- Increased communication from your patients.
- Decreased stress in your interaction with patients.
- Better outcomes
- More positive patient interactions with your patients
- Growth in your practice as patients tell others about the positive benefits of working with a trauma-informed provider