UK HealthCare

Experts Examine Guidelines for Inclusion and Equity in Child Trauma Treatment

headshot of Dr. Meghan Marsac
Meghan Marsac, Ph.D., is a pediatric psychologist who specializes in the prevention of post-traumatic stress in children after injury or illness.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 18, 2020) – A group of researchers including Meghan Marsac, Ph.D., pediatric psychologist at Kentucky Children’s Hospital, are reviewing existing guidelines for clinicians and healthcare providers to address the lack of inclusion and equity in trauma care.

“Under the leadership of Dr. Eva Alisic from University of Melbourne in Australia, we are continuing to work on improving inclusivity in trauma treatment and research,” said Marsac. “Just this week we hosted virtual discussions with over 50 professionals from around the world to develop strategies on how to improve inclusivity and children’s perspectives into our clinical care and research.”

Current guidelines, put forth by the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies were drafted through a “white western lens” and researchers found that a child’s cultural background wasn’t included as a factor in research and treatment. The majority of studies on trauma treatment were conducted by researchers from western countries. The COVID-19 pandemic and the anti-racism protests of 2020 underlined the urgency for reform in health equity.

“Our primary goal of this paper was to initiate a discussion around how we can improve inclusivity in how we diagnosis and treat PTSD in children,” said Marsac. “We also wanted to draw attention to the gaps in our research about PTSD.”

Another gap was the consideration of the “child’s voice” in treatment. The current guidelines were drafted without input from anyone under 18. While parents and caregivers are effective “interpreters” for the child, new research has shown that treatment can be more effective when the child’s participation forms the base of the treatment plan.

The researchers also recommend the inclusion of historians, sociologists, anthropologists, educationalists, public health economists and local ethicists on the committee to establish trauma guidelines as to contribute to the understanding of the effects of history, economics and social on a young population.

“Clinical practice guidelines have a strong influence over what type of care is provided to patients,” said Marsac. “The intention of these guidelines is to call attention to what the best trauma treatments are and what the evidence is to support these treatments.” 

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