PhD student Elizabeth Reeves and Janice Humphreys recently published an article entitled "Describing the Healthcare Experiences and Strategies of Women Survivors of Violence" in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.
Background: Survivors of traumatic life events are at increased risk for an array of negative health consequences, which can be complicated when distressing healthcare experiences act as a barrier to accessing needed care. Implications for trauma-informed and sensitive practice are well established, but evidence to-date on survivors' healthcare experiences and patient engagement is limited.
Design: The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to develop knowledge on women survivors' healthcare experiences and strategies.
Methods: Fourteen participants completed a demographic questionnaire and one semi-structured interview focused on their exposure to violence, healthcare experiences and strategies for navigating healthcare. Thematic analysis in alignment with qualitative description methods was used to analyze interview transcripts and identify themes.
Results: Participants in this study reported a variety of traumatic life experiences, ranging from childhood sexual abuse and intimate partner violence to severe car accidents. Experiencing a multiplicity of trauma sometimes complicated participants' later healthcare experiences. Although participants described ways in which providers helped them attain positive care experiences, they also acknowledged that limitations of the healthcare system could make trauma-informed practices difficult to implement. Participants described strategies they use to prepare for, navigate, and recover after healthcare encounters including selecting providers, bringing support persons to appointments, and engaging in relaxing activities after appointments.
Conclusions: Participants emphasized the importance of trusting and equitable provider-patient relationships and described several ways they prepare for, cope with, and care for themselves after difficult healthcare experiences. Descriptive data on the patient engagement behaviors of survivors of violence is a unique contribution of this study to existing research.