Writers: Alexandra Apesland, Amy McGugan, Denae Easton, Donna Dumitrescu, Shae Sackman
Editors: George Saadé, Holly Funk
A traumatic event is a harmful or dangerous experience that can change a person’s idea of the world as being a fair, safe place 1. Traumatic events are more common than we think, with past studies showing that about 76% of Canadians have lived through a traumatic event at some point in their life.
Many things can harm the relationship between a patient and their healthcare provider, like past personal experiences of betrayal trauma. Betrayal trauma happens when a person’s trust is broken by someone who they depend on. Experiences like this change the way people make and think about their relationships. The researchers at the SCHT Lab wanted to know how these experiences of broken trust affect health. Of the people in this study, 69% had been through a traumatic event at some point, and 47% reported that their trust was broken at least once by an important person in their life.
People who live with betrayal trauma have poorer relationships because they don’t feel safe, which can change how they view healthcare providers and their ability to trust them. Experiences of betrayal trauma are also connected to people’s mental health, which is connected, along with relationship problems, to the trust a person has in their healthcare provider. This lack of trust can then lead to having physical health problems. There was also a connection found between betrayal trauma, having trouble trusting and following medical advice, and physical health problems. The researchers think that stronger relationships with healthcare providers that allow people to feel safe could lead to better health outcomes.
Klest, B., Tamaian, A., & Boughner, E. (2019). A model exploring the relationship between betrayal trauma and health: The roles of mental health, attachment, trust in healthcare systems, and nonadherence to treatment. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 11(6), 656. https://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/2019-14230-001.pdf?auth_token=0213b115b67c40f3c0dfb1b51b32c9ee6e7e4ddb