Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Health Information Science


Health Information Science


Dr. Nadine Wathen


Trauma and violence are pervasive public health issues. Social and systemic barriers can intensify these experiences and negatively impact access to health and social services. A key element of equity-oriented healthcare, trauma- and violence-informed care (TVIC) promotes the emotional, physical, and cultural safety of service recipients. This thesis extends ongoing work to enhance organizational implementation of TVIC. In collaboration with Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Middlesex, semi-structured interviews and a document review were employed to investigate how to frame and share TVIC information with the public and individuals accessing services, and to illuminate what barriers and facilitators may impact this process. Findings suggest efforts to cultivate a TVI-community may be integrally linked to various social, systemic, and structural factors that perpetuate fear, shame, stigma, and prejudice. Leveraging existing organizational efforts, and creative and collaborative engagement strategies, could help re-construct the social and structural landscape that perpetuates the experience of trauma and violence.

Summary for Lay Audience

Trauma and violence are common and harm many people. Social factors such as poverty and discrimination can make these experiences worse and make it harder for people to find and get help. It’s important to support health and social services to reduce the poor health outcomes associated with these experiences. Trauma- and violence-informed care (TVIC) promotes the emotional, physical, and cultural safety of all people seeking care, and those providing it. While there are efforts to incorporate TVIC principles into organizational policies and practices, little has been done to translate this knowledge for the public. This is important because social norms and structures can perpetuate the trauma, violence, and inequities experienced by vulnerable and marginalized groups – this impacts individuals, communities and society.

In partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Middlesex, this research used interviews and document review to explore how to integrate the principles and practices of TVIC into public and client education, and what barriers and facilitators might impact doing so. The findings suggest that efforts to create broader community awareness and action about TVIC may be linked to various factors that perpetuate fear, shame, stigma, and prejudice associated with trauma, violence, mental illness, and other health and social issues. These challenges exist at the individual, organizational, and societal level. In order to address these challenges, a creative and collaborative approach that builds on current organizational efforts to promote TVIC and extends beyond the mental health sector is required. For meaningful and lasting change to occur, education efforts must involve the general public, those seeking support and their loved ones, and other service agencies.