Summary: This is a multi-year, statewide initiative that aims to integrate trauma-informed care into the culture and service delivery of HIV-service agencies, with the goal of improving client and staff experience and client health outcomes.
Opportunity: There is growing understanding of the relationship between exposure to trauma and increased likelihood of HIV transmission, low adherence to medication, treatment failure, substance abuse, and poor mental health among people with HIV. The State of New Jersey recognizes that while it has been highly successful in addressing the HIV epidemic, addressing the profound impact of trauma on people’s health and quality of life is a critical part of ending the HIV epidemic. Studies have shown that utilizing a trauma-informed care approach reduces health disparities, treatment costs, clients’ alcohol and drug use, and the risk of hospitalization while increasing client engagement and improving workplace participation.
Initiative: This program emphasizes education and awareness for staff and clients to establish a trauma-informed healing culture in HIV service agencies across New Jersey. CAI’s work in this area is grounded in an implementation science framework. We use a strengths-based approach that begins with leadership as a foundation and examines how to best integrate trauma-informed care into existing systems. We provide customized technical assistance to support reviews of policies, procedures, and baseline assessments to identify trauma-informed care strengths, opportunities, readiness, and action planning. We provide training in trauma-informed service delivery, using evidence-based treatment models for supervisory, clinical, mental health, and non-mental health staff. We strive to develop staff skills that create a trauma-responsive healing environment, supporting evidence-informed care that is compassionate, comprehensive, and skills based. We work with agencies to implement trauma-informed patient services, including systematic screening, client education, referrals, and psychoeducation to address the ongoing symptoms of trauma experienced by clients. Throughout the process, CAI helps providers use real-time data to monitor progress and conduct continuous quality improvement, and we offer continuing education credits, allowing health care professionals to expand their skillsets.
Impact: This initiative continues to actively support agencies in assessing, action planning, and implementing trauma-informed care to ensure that they are places for health and healing that actively avoid re-traumatization. In the last year, CAI delivered 26 trainings to nearly 700 participants across the state. To date, the project has offered trauma-informed care services to 2,607 clients during 3,648 encounters. The core curriculum training, Trauma 101, offered to all staff, has led to increases of up to 22 percent in staff’s self-efficacy or confidence to integrate trauma-informed care into their day-to-day work.
Project funder and key partners: The project is funded by Hyacinth AIDS Foundation in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Health, Division of HIV, STD, and TB Services.
Project contact: Beth Hurley, Project Director.