Integrating Trauma and Violence Informed Care in Primary Health Care Settings for First Nations Women Experiencing Violence: A Systematic Review

Patricia Cullen, Tamara Mackean, Natasha Walker, Julieann Coombs, Keziah Bennett-Brook, Kathleen Clapham, Rebecca Ivers, Maree Hackett, Faye Worner, Marlene Longbottom

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


It is imperative that access to primary health care services is equitable as health care practitioners are often the first responders to women who experience violence. This is of particular importance for First Nations women who disproportionately experience interpersonal and structural violence when compared to non-First Nations women, as well as the ongoing impact of colonization, racism, and intergenerational trauma. To understand how primary health care services can provide equitable and effective care for First Nations women, we explored how trauma and violence informed care is integrated in primary health care settings through the lens of an equity-oriented framework. A systematic search of electronic databases included Medline (via Ovid), Scopus, Informit, and PubMed and grey literature. Six studies were included in the review and we undertook a narrative synthesis using the equity-oriented framework to draw together the intersection of trauma and violence informed care with culturally safe and contextually tailored care. This review demonstrates how equity-oriented primary health care settings respond to the complex and multiple forms of violence and intergenerational trauma experienced by First Nations women and thus mitigate shame and stigma to encourage disclosure and help seeking. Key attributes include responding to women’s individual contexts by centering family, engaging elders, encouraging community ownership, which is driven by a culturally competent workforce that builds trust, reduces retraumatization, and respects confidentiality. This review highlights the importance of strengthening and supporting the workforce, as well as embedding cultural safety within intersectoral partnerships and ensuring adequate resourcing and sustainability of initiatives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1204-1219
Number of pages16
JournalTrauma, Violence & Abuse
Issue number4
Early online date12 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • First Nations
  • trauma
  • violence
  • primary health care
  • culturally safe
  • trauma and violence informed


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