Towards Gender-responsive, Trauma-informed Care for Substance Use Disorders and PTSD: Evidence to Inform Non-government Services in Australia

By Angela Dawson, Charlotte Pritchard, Sue Dean and Debra Jackson.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 9, 2014 $US5.00

Trauma-informed care assumes an understanding of trauma is integrated in all aspects of service delivery and care. In women with substance use disorders (SUD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the disorders are treated simultaneously. Existing evidence in this sector points to the need for a gender-specific program approach to drug and alcohol disorders and health workers who have the knowledge, skills, expertise, and confidence to deliver these programs for women. The objective of this review is to identify characteristics associated with outcomes for SUD and PTSD and the experiences and needs of women in treatment contexts. A narrative synthesis of peer-reviewed literature from 2003 to 2013 was undertaken, with retrieved documents assessed using an inclusion/exclusion criterion and quality appraisal guided by critical assessment tools. Concepts were analysed thematically. Eleven papers were found that related to the topic under study. This review found that trauma-informed care models can lead to reduced alcohol and drug severity symptoms, improved abstinence rates, and reduced PTSD symptoms. However, a trauma-informed approach may be the most beneficial for women with severe SUD and PTSD symptoms. Trauma-informed care appears to be a promising treatment for women with SUD and PTSD. However, this appears to be mediated by client baseline characteristics and treatment program composition. This highlights the need for proper baseline assessment and flexible treatment programming delivered by a well-supported workforce.

Keywords: Substance Use Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Gender Responsive, Trauma Informed Care, Service Delivery

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies, Volume 8, Issue 1, April 2014, pp.67-91. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 9, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 935.835KB)).

Dr Angela Dawson

Senior Research Fellow, Faculty of Health, The University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Angela is a social scientist with a background in global public health. Her research experience is in the areas of primary health care workforce development and primary health care service delivery as it pertains to vulnerable and marginalized groups. In Australia, Angela is involved in identifying evidence for improving care for women with substance use disorders particularly homeless, indigenous and incarcerated women with children. Her international work is concerned with maternal and reproductive care health service delivery.

Charlotte Pritchard

Sydney, NSW, Australia

Charlotte is a psychologist working in a women's residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. She has experience in the development and facilitation of evidenced based interventions for substance use and co-morbid mental health disorders.

Sue Dean

Lecturer, Faculty of Health, The University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Sue Dean is a lecturer in the Health Faculty UTS. Her clinical experience has been in primary health care and mental health and more recently in working with women with SUD’s. Her research interests include the teaching and learning of interpersonal communication and women’s health and the practice of working with vulnerable and marginalised women, in particular women with substance use disorders.

Prof Debra Jackson

Professor of Nursing, Faculty of Health, The University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Debra Jackson is a professor of nursing and associate head of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Development, in the faculty of health. She is an active supervisor of doctoral students, and teaches into the coursework Masters level programs. Professor Jackson is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing (Xi Omicron). She leads research programs in adolescent and family health with a particular focus on parenting and workforce development and adversity with a particular focus on leadership and workplace culture. A key objective of her work is to enhance the well-being of vulnerable and socially-marginalised groups through the development of sustainable and culturally sensitive supportive interventions.