Public Health and Primary CareCOMMENTARY

Adverse childhood experiences and trauma informed care: treating the whole patient with a more complete osteopathic approach

T. Brian Marcoux, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: January 8, 2021

Accepted: May 10, 2021

Published: July 22, 2021

  • T. Brian Marcoux, DO, 

    Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1800 Orleans St, Baltimore, MD 21287-0010, USA

J Osteopath Med; 121(9): 763-769

In 1998, a seminal study identified a strong connection between participants’ exposures to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the development of risk factors for serious health conditions later in life. More than two decades later, leaders in both policy and health care professions now appreciate the impact of social determinants of health, including the enormous societal costs incurred by deleterious experiences, and recognize that treating illness begins with prevention in early childhood. The trauma informed care (TIC) model offers a treatment approach that lends consideration to the traumatic experiences that impact a given patient and allows for more complete treatment by their physician. Delivering care under the TIC model encourages trauma identification, early intervention, system level awareness and policy change, and avoiding retraumatization in the therapeutic setting. Various programs across the country seek to employ these methods at the community, state, and federal level. Several programs aimed at introducing medical students to these principles have contributed to an incorporation of TIC within the physician pipeline. In this Commentary, the author proposes an expansion of the Tenets of Osteopathic Medicine with a fifth principle—considering the implications of a patient’s past formative experiences, their present life circumstances, and their future prospects—as a vehicle for instilling TIC principles ubiquitously throughout osteopathic medical training to develop physicians who treat the whole person more completely and are better equipped to manage this public health crisis.

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