Trauma-informed care as a rights-based “standard of care”: A critical review
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BACKGROUND: A growing body of literature on the concept of trauma-informed care (TIC) has emerged in response to greater recognition of the prevalence of childhood trauma. Currently, no review has examined the conceptualization of TIC in various child-serving systems, specifically TIC as a standard of care, the outcomes examined relevant to care, and whether child rights are part of the TIC discourse. METHOD: A systematic search of 12 health and non-health databases, reviewed for relevance to children and youth specifically, was conducted to form a critical review of the literature. RESULTS: Forty-nine documents were selected, which included articles from child welfare (n = 16), education (n = 15), juvenile justice (n = 8), health (n = 7), and multiple sectors (n = 3). A common theme across all sectors was a lack of clear understanding regarding what is TIC and how to implement it. While trauma symptoms are seemingly a good-fit outcome and reflective of a right to rehabilitative health, validated assessment tools were not commonly used. Few studies explicitly included a child rights perspective within TIC. CONCLUSION: Emerging evidence encourages systematic inquiry into the operationalization of TIC to better assess whether it is an established model with consistent measurement. Empirical studies need to embrace established intervention methodology (e.g., improvement from baseline, control groups). From this expanded rigor, the issue as to whether TIC can evolve to a rights-based standard of care can be addressed.
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