Medical Trauma

Pediatric medical traumatic stress refers to a set of psychological and physiological responses of children and their families to pain, injury, serious illness, medical procedures, and invasive or frightening treatment experiences. These responses may include symptoms of arousal, re-experiencing, and / or avoidance. They may vary in intensity, are related to the subjective experience of the event, and can become disruptive to functioning.

Pediatric Medical Traumatic Stress Toolkit for Health Care Providers
This toolkit was produced by the Medical Traumatic Stress Working Group of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network to
  • raise awareness among health care providers about traumatic stress associated with pediatric medical events and medical treatment, and
  • promote trauma-informed practice of pediatric health care in hospital settings across the continuum of care and in a variety of settings within the hospital.
  • statistics on medical stress among children and adolescents,
  • the impact of traumatic medical events on children, parents, and healthcare providers,
  • definitions and key concepts in traumatic stress after medical events,
  • cancer and traumatic stress,
  • injury and traumatic stress, and
  • pediatric intensive care units and traumatic stress.

Consult a NCTSN reading list of research on medical traumatic stress.

Related Websites

After the Injury
This website helps parents and caregivers understand children's reactions to injuries, and advises them on how they can help children respond in healthy ways. Visitors can download tip sheets, make care plans, consult self-care resources, and learn when—and how—to get additional help for their children. This site is developed and maintained by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. To access the Spanish version of the site click here.

Health Care Tool Box
This website offers pediatric health care providers resources and guidance on adopting a trauma-informed perspective on patient care. The site explains the impact of traumatic stress reactions in children coping with illness, injury, and medical procedures; provides tools that can help health care professionals enhance their skills; and includes patient education materials that can be downloaded and shared with clients. This site is developed and maintained by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.