Trauma-informed care for people presenting to the emergency department with mental health issues
evidence and practice    

Trauma-informed care for people presenting to the emergency department with mental health issues

Luke Molloy Senior lecturer, School of Nursing, Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
Lorraine Fields Lecturer, Faculty of Science Medicine and Health, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
Baylie Trostian Lecturer, Faculty of Science Medicine and Health, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
Grant Kinghorn Lecturer, Faculty of Science Medicine and Health, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand the challenges that people may experience when presenting to the emergency department (ED) with mental health issues

  • To familiarise yourself with the principles of trauma-informed care and the high prevalence of exposure to childhood trauma among people with mental health issues

  • To develop an awareness of the risk of re-traumatising patients during their care in the ED, and how this may be avoided

There is a high prevalence of exposure to traumatic events in childhood among people who have mental health issues. Presentation to the emergency department (ED) can be challenging for these patients because the environment and their experience of care can trigger traumatic memories. Trauma-informed care is an approach to practice that is guided by knowledge of how trauma affects people’s lives and their healthcare needs.

Despite the increasing prevalence of mental health care delivery in EDs, the level of translation of trauma-informed care into nursing practice in this setting is largely unknown. Therefore, the authors undertook a narrative literature review, the aim of which was to gather evidence relevant to trauma-informed care in the ED and provide guidance on this practice for emergency nurses. Several databases were searched, and the relevant articles found were thematically analysed. Three emergent themes were identified from the literature: an access point for mental health care; staff attitudes; and the ED experience. Emergency nurses need to be aware of the effects of childhood trauma on people presenting with mental health issues and plan their approach to care to avoid potentially re-traumatising patients.

Emergency Nurse. doi: 10.7748/en.2020.e1990

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

lmolloy@uow.edu.au

Conflict of interest

None declared

Molloy L, Fields L, Trostian B et al (2020) Trauma-informed care for people presenting to the emergency department with mental health issues. Emergency Nurse. doi: 10.7748/en.2020.e1990

Published online: 25 February 2020