Do mental health clinicians elicit a history of previous trauma in female psychiatric inpatients?

Claudia Lin Xiao, Emorfia Gavrilidis, Stuart Lee, Jayashri Kulkarni

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: A history of trauma is linked to the development of a wide range of mental health problems, and has long-lasting physiological and psychological consequences. The importance of clinicians directly questioning trauma history has been consistently emphasised in the literature. Aims: To investigate whether a trauma history is obtained from female psychiatry inpatients during an inpatient admission. Methods: The study was a retrospective file audit of 100 female patients admitted to the psychiatric ward of a major metropolitan Melbourne Hospital between December 2013 and November 2014. Results: In the files of 51% of patients there was no mention of whether or not the patient had a trauma-abuse history. Eight percent of patients had documentation stating there was no trauma-abuse history. Forty-one percent of the patients had documented evidence of a trauma-abuse history, although only 3% of these patients had a specific description provided. The presence of current illicit drug use and the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder were the only variables associated with an increase in the likelihood of having a documented trauma-abuse history. Conclusion: There is a need for clinician retraining, a trauma-informed care model and the incorporation of mandatory inquiry in best practice guidelines to generate a shift in culture in the delivery of mental health care services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-365
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2016


  • Mental illness
  • psychiatric inpatients
  • psychiatry wards
  • trauma history

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