WITH: Women’s Input to a Trauma-informed systems model of care in Health settings

Project Details

Rationale for research

Sexual violence and mental health is a public health priority due to their significant bidirectional effect and association with morbidity and mortality; including injuries, chronic physical illness, poor sexual health, adverse perinatal outcomes, substance misuse, mental illness and suicidal behavior (khalifeh et al, 2015) and less likely to seek informal help (Khalifeh et al 2015).

Mental health and Human Service agencies in Australia have attempted to roll out trauma informed care (Quadara, 2015), based on a recovery-oriented view of the individual, family and community, and is contextualised by culture, privilege or oppression, history and the social determinants of health. Recovery also occurs within the context of gender, age and developmental stages (AHMAC, 2013, p. 2). Recovery focused mental health care recognises that trauma arising from experiences of violence and abuse is prevalent among mental health service users and is therefore something to which mental health services need to be responsive (Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council, 2013; AHMAC, 2010).

There is limited research that examines the effectiveness of organisation and systems models of trauma informed care (Quadara, 2015), with a tendency to focus on the individual level or proxy indicators such as reduction in seclusion and restraint practices/incidents to suggest changes in organisational practice (e.g. Rivard, 2004; Wright, Woo, Muller, Fernandes, & Kraftcheck, 2003).  Only four qualitative studies identified the key outcomes at the organisational and systems level of trauma informed care (Quadara, 2015).


  • How can we ensure that trauma-informed care is meeting the needs of women who have experienced both mental health issues and sexual violence?;
  • How can we enact trauma-informed care in practice when dealing with women who have experienced both mental health issues and sexual violence?

Study Design

A mixed-method, combining qualitative and quantitative approaches is proposed, given the need to both investigate the experience of staff and consumers.


Mental Health setting in Northern Area Suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria.


Staff from a variety of professions and female consumers.

When will final results be reported?

Final results/ report, January 2019


Prof Kelsey Hegarty, Head of Abuse and Violence Program

A/Prof Laura Tarzia, Research Fellow and Deputy Head, Abuse and Violence Program

Research Group

Sexual Abuse and Family Violence: SAFE

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry, Women's Health, Infectious Diseases and Immunity

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

General Practice and Primary Care

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