Training health care professionals in the skills and capacity to respond adequately to children and adults who have been exposed trauma, such as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), is recognized as an essential need in health care. But opportunities to educate physicians and physician-trainees in the science of childhood adversity and trauma-informed care are limited.
The 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health revealed that almost 50% of youth in Washington DC had experienced an ACE. Motivated by this data, a research team led by Binny Chokshi, M.D., pediatrician in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Children’s National Hospital, set out to create an accessible opportunity to train physicians in the science of childhood adversity, trauma-informed care, and resilience.
The study’s researchers created four computer-based e-modules focused on addressing childhood adversity and implementing trauma-informed care in the pediatric primary care setting. The e-modules were designed for an individualized, self-directed experience to allow for distance learning with flexibility and provided an opportunity to train health professionals using an innovative, self-directed and low-resource mechanism. These e-modules were published Oct. 12 on MedEdPORTAL.
“Increasing the ability of health care providers to recognize and respond to childhood trauma, such as ACEs, can not only buffer the long-term negative physical and mental health impacts of traumatic exposures but also increase patient-centered care and improve patient care indicators,” says Dr. Chokshi. “Given the large body of evidence that links exposure to childhood trauma with negative health outcomes, training physicians on strategies to mitigate the effects of trauma is paramount.”
The e-modules were shown to be effective; findings showed that participants increased their knowledge, attitude, and confidence related to childhood adversity and trauma-informed care, after participating in the modules.
“In the era of COVID-19, employing a trauma-informed approach to care is of even graver importance because the reverberations of the overactivity of the biological stress response during this time will affect populations both in the near and distant future,” says Dr. Chokshi. “Our e-modules provide an opportunity for pediatricians to take a self-directed approach to better serving their patients.”