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Canadian Public Health Association

Trauma- and violence- informed physical examinations and STBBI testing: A guide for service providers

The physical examination is a standard component of most medical encounters. It can be an opportunity to establish trust and reinforce a sentiment of care between provider and patient, but can also expose patients to shame, vulnerability, and/or (re)traumatization. Physical examinations can bring up past experiences of abuse or violence or otherwise cause distress or discomfort for people of any gender.

In collaboration with Dr. Sadie Elisseou, this tool was adapted from a trauma-informed physical examination curriculum developed for first year medical students. This tool provides general recommendations for using a trauma-informed approach when performing any physical examinations or procedures, focusing on language and maneuvers intended to increase patients’ sense of comfort, safety and control during examination.

Cover page of resource with image of a stethoscope in the shape of a heart.

Last modified: February 23, 2021