Study Takes 360 Degree View of Trauma Patient Recovery

In what researchers call a first, a study at City University of London examined the steps to recovery from the trauma patient, family member and clinician point of view. The point of the study was to determine what each constituency considered when it came to successful outcomes. Staffers, clinicians and health experts from several universities collaborated with Dr. Leanne Aitken, professor of nursing at City University of London.

Aitken says researchers can use the results of the study to help create care regimens for trauma patients. The idea is that when patients report progress, health professionals should move forward using that feedback when it comes to prioritizing care. This also personalizes care from the perspective of families of the trauma victims because every patient is different.


The study followed 33 trauma patients at two Australian teaching hospitals. Medical experts also received feedback from 22 members of the patients’ families and 40 health care professionals working at the hospitals. Researchers noted what happened to the trauma patients when they were hospitalized and up to three months after their discharge from the hospital. The study noted differences from what the families of the trauma victims noted as successful versus what clinicians felt was successful.


The trauma victims, their families and clinicians identified five main outcomes that measured positive successes. These included:

  1. Returning to work,
  2. Achieving independence,
  3. Returning to family roles,
  4. Achieving comfort, and
  5. Recapturing a sense of normalcy

In the months following discharge from the hospital, some trauma patient perceptions of what constituted recovery shifted.  The changes included, an increased recognition that daily activities were vital to recovery, an increasing understanding that the injury impacts many aspects of everyday life, and an increased appreciation that one must not take life for granted.

In terms of health care professionals, the study outlines the importance considering both the immediate recovery priorities of trauma patients, and also the post-discharge priorities.  Attention to both portions of patient’s recovery will yield improved perception of the recovery process. Overall, clinicians must recognize that everyone’s healing situation is unique and that the priorities of patients and their families are paramount.

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