Identifying and Overcoming Barriers to Trauma Screening in the Primary Care Setting

Carissa van den Berk-Clark, Randy Gallamore, Jacqueline Barnes, Andrew Oberle, Dixie Meyer, F. David Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: Underrecognition of trauma exposure and PTSD has a significant impact on psychiatric health, physical health, and health behaviors. The purpose of this study is to explore barriers and opportunities for trauma screening in primary care. Methods: Primary care physicians (PCPs) and their patients were interviewed about the acceptability of trauma screening and brief treatment in primary care. Interview transcripts were coded and analyzed for themes using Atlas v. 7.0. Results: Data showed PCPs informally screen for trauma but were hampered by organizational constraints including time, availability of behavioral health providers, and knowledge of trauma-informed-care practices. Most patients with trauma history met with behavioral health providers during their lifetimes, but still did not believe it was the PCPs’ role to address trauma exposure, had fears of “appearing crazy,” or were ambivalent about seeking treatment. Discussion: Findings suggest an enormous complexity involved in screening for trauma in primary care service delivery. Trauma screening appears to work best within the course of relationship building where patients can begin to see that their physician is capable of playing an important role in managing trauma, depression, and PTSD symptoms. We address how trauma discussion can take place within existing trauma informed care guidelines

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-187
Number of pages11
JournalFamilies, Systems and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • Primary care
  • Ptsd
  • Screening
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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