Trauma-Informed Care Training in Family Medicine Residency Programs Results From a CERA Survey


Background and Objectives: Experiences of psychological trauma are common among primary care patient populations, and adversely affect patients’ health and health care utilization. Trauma-informed care (TIC) is a framework for identifying and responding to patients’ experiences of psychological trauma to avoid retraumatization. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the current state of TIC training in family medicine residency programs in the United States in order to identify opportunities for and barriers to TIC training.

Methods: Items addressing the four core domains of TIC were incorporated into the 2017 Council of Academy Family Medicine Educational Research Alliance (CERA) survey of program directors. The items assessed the presence, content, and sufficiency of TIC curriculum, as well as barriers to further integration of TIC training.

Results: Approximately 50% of programs responded to the survey. Of 263 respondents, 71 (27%) reported TIC training in their curriculum, but the majority devoted less than 5 hours annually to core content. The content most commonly addressed recognizing signs of trauma, most frequently using didactic formats. Overall, just over one-half of the programs reported that their curriculum met patients’ TIC needs “somewhat” (48.5%) or “a great deal” (4.6%). Lack of a champion followed by lack of time were the most commonly cited barriers to integrating TIC training.

Conclusions: Despite the acknowledged importance of effects of trauma in health care, this study identified insufficient exposure to training in the core TIC domains in family medicine residency programs, underscoring a need for greater integration of TIC training during residency.