Released by: Health Services
For Immediate Release

Work Helping Families Recognize Trauma
Featured in Public Health Nursing Journal

Santa Rosa, CA  –  September 17, 2019  –  The Sonoma County Department of Health Services (DHS) Field Nursing team was recently published in the academic journal Public Health Nursing featuring their work with families to recognize traumatic events, also known as a trauma-informed approach, in its home visiting program.

The Field Nursing team defines its trauma‐informed approach as a framework based on the understanding of and responsiveness to the impact of trauma that emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety. This strengths-based model creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.

The article, titled, Trauma Informed public health nursing visits to parents and children, presents the supporting research used to develop the approach, which draws from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) research and describes the model used by the Field Nursing team.

In July 2018, the Field Nursing team launched the trauma‐informed approach that assists parents in reflecting on the impact of their personal trauma histories and its potential negative impacts on families.

“The goal of our Field Nursing team is to provide an enhanced approach, which includes ACEs screening to traditional home visiting programs in populations historically affected by childhood trauma,” said lead author of the article and Sonoma County Public Health Nurse Julianne Ballard. 

ACEs research demonstrates a strong association among traumatic childhood events and poor health and social status following individuals into adulthood.

Field nurses supporting child and maternal health frequently encounter families experiencing trauma, which offered a unique opportunity to assist parents in recognizing the potential harm such stress may have for their child. The Sonoma County Field Nursing team developed a trauma‐informed model utilizing ACEs education in a self‐reflective approach with parents to increase family resilience and reduce the risk for future childhood trauma.

“We are honored to have the work of our Field Nursing team be featured in such a prestigious journal, as Public Health Nursing,” said County Health Officer Dr. Celeste Philip.

“However what’s more important is that the evaluation of this trauma-informed model has demonstrated better care for women and children served in this program, and this approach can now be shared with colleagues throughout the state and nation.”

About Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

ACEs were first identified in a study on the relationship between childhood abuse and chronic illness and/or dysfunction in adults. The original ACEs study surveyed 13,494 Kaiser Permanente health plan members for exposure to trauma before age 18, and compared participant responses to adult risk‐taking behaviors and health problems. Further studies have strengthened the association between high ACE scores and sexual risk taking, poor work performance, premature death of a family member, lung cancer, depression and cardiovascular disease, intimate partner violence, and postpartum depression.

The Field Nursing team, housed within the Public Health Division of the Sonoma County Department of Health Services (DHS), has been serving families in the community for over 40 years.

The abstract for this article can be found online at the following link: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/phn.12634.


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