Presentation Title (IN ALL CAPS)

Trauma-Informed Care in Refugee Populations

Departmental Affiliation and City, State, Zip for All Authors

Iram Qureshi UNTHSC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Fort Worth, Texas 76107; Amy Raines-Milenkov UNTHSC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Fort Worth, Texas 76107; Eva Baker UNTHSC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Fort Worth, Texas 76107; Emelda Thein UNTHSC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Fort Worth, Texas 76107; Halimo Mudey UNTHSC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Fort Worth, Texas 76107; Laurette Rudasingwa UNTHSC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Fort Worth, Texas 76107; Radhika Subedi UNTHSC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Fort Worth, Texas 76107;

Classification

SPH Student (For Competition)

Research Presentation Category

Health Disparities

Brief Narrative or Summary

Each year an increasingly higher number of refugees are being forced to leave their homes and resettle in the United States. In their homes countries, a vast majority of refugees have experienced unthinkable traumatic events and experiences such as rape, violence, torture, witnessing murder, etc. After resettling in America, many refugees who are trauma survivors will be scared, and distrustful of the people who can help them. Health providers can unknowingly re-traumatize a survivor if they do not know the background, experiences, and culture of the patients they are treating. Health services such as cervical cancer screenings (pap exams) are very discomforting and frightening for someone who has endured trauma and that is why it is important for the organizations and people who provide services to refugees be trauma-informed and understand the trauma-informed care framework. It is very important that these services are sensitive to the survivors’ needs and should be more widely practiced. If the trauma that refugees have experienced remain unrecognized and go unresolved, they may avoid health services altogether. It is important they feel safe and secure when going through this system that is new and completely unfamiliar to them.

Scientific Abstract

With the growing number of refugees resettled in the United States after fleeing war torn countries devastated by genocides, mass violence, and human rights abuses, it is increasingly likely that a healthcare provider will treat a patient who has experienced one or more traumatic events. When trauma is unaddressed, healthcare providers may unknowingly trigger re-traumatization, preventing refugees from seeking or receiving healthcare services. Refugee trauma survivors require a sensitive system of care. Western medicine is unfamiliar to many refugee groups, and some services, such as cervical cancer screening, may remind them of prior trauma. Trauma-informed care is an approach for assisting trauma survivors with evidence of benefiting vulnerable populations. Our objectives are to introduce the trauma-informed framework and principles, provide examples of traumas experienced by refugees, and demonstrate how previous trauma can influence preventive health care utilization among women enrolled in the Building Bridges program. A literature review of trauma-informed care and trauma among refugees resettled in the United States was conducted. Additionally, qualitative data collected by Building Bridges Lay Health Educators as part of their education and navigation services was analyzed and grouped into themes. Recurring themes of rape, torture and distrust towards healthcare providers was found in literature on refugee trauma. Similarly, Building Bridges data confirms rape and violence experienced by refugee women inhibit them from seeking preventive health services. These findings call for more attention to the mental health needs of resettled refugees. Refugees need a linguistically and culturally appropriate form of care incorporating the trauma-informed framework.

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Trauma-Informed Care in Refugee Populations

With the growing number of refugees resettled in the United States after fleeing war torn countries devastated by genocides, mass violence, and human rights abuses, it is increasingly likely that a healthcare provider will treat a patient who has experienced one or more traumatic events. When trauma is unaddressed, healthcare providers may unknowingly trigger re-traumatization, preventing refugees from seeking or receiving healthcare services. Refugee trauma survivors require a sensitive system of care. Western medicine is unfamiliar to many refugee groups, and some services, such as cervical cancer screening, may remind them of prior trauma. Trauma-informed care is an approach for assisting trauma survivors with evidence of benefiting vulnerable populations. Our objectives are to introduce the trauma-informed framework and principles, provide examples of traumas experienced by refugees, and demonstrate how previous trauma can influence preventive health care utilization among women enrolled in the Building Bridges program. A literature review of trauma-informed care and trauma among refugees resettled in the United States was conducted. Additionally, qualitative data collected by Building Bridges Lay Health Educators as part of their education and navigation services was analyzed and grouped into themes. Recurring themes of rape, torture and distrust towards healthcare providers was found in literature on refugee trauma. Similarly, Building Bridges data confirms rape and violence experienced by refugee women inhibit them from seeking preventive health services. These findings call for more attention to the mental health needs of resettled refugees. Refugees need a linguistically and culturally appropriate form of care incorporating the trauma-informed framework.