Abstract: Assessing the Effectiveness of City-Wide Trauma-Informed Trainings (Society for Social Work and Research 22nd Annual Conference - Achieving Equal Opportunity, Equity, and Justice)

Assessing the Effectiveness of City-Wide Trauma-Informed Trainings

Saturday, January 13, 2018: 9:06 AM
Independence BR C (ML 4) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Bridget Freisthler, PhD, Associate Dean for Research, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Elinam Dellor, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Oakland, CA
Kristina Lovato-Hermann, PhD, Assistant Professor, CSU Long Beach, Long Beach, CA
Fei Pei, MSW, Doctoral Student Research Assistant, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Background. Many social service providers are using a trauma-informed lens to guide service provision. Trauma-informed trainings are central to increasing awareness of trauma among staff and are critical in the implementation of trauma-informed care practices. These trainings, particularly among non-trauma providers, has been found to be the most important factor in making services more effective and trauma-informed for agencies and clients. Changes in staff practices and in organizational culture implemented have been shown to contribute to an improvement in clients’ daily functioning and a decrease in trauma symptoms, substance use, and mental health symptoms.  A city in California developed and implemented three specialized training efforts through three types of trainings: (1) providing basic trauma-informed information and awareness (Trauma-Informed 101 Training) to a variety of stakeholders throughout the community; (2) Trauma-Informed Screening and Assessment targeted to social service, mental health, and public health professionals in order to provide them with skills to conduct screenings and assessments; and (3) entire social service agencies (Trauma-Informed Agency-Wide Training) with the goal of having all the employees of those agencies apply a trauma-informed approach to their work, regardless of job title and duties. The current study assesses whether or not the trainings were effective at increasing knowledge of trauma and trauma-informed practices.

Methods.  Pre and posttest questionnaires (consisted of about 12 knowledge-based questions and demographic information) were provided for each of the three types of trainings that assessed knowledge related to the training.  Pretest questionnaires were administered online (as part of preregistration) or in person for attendees who did not receive the training. Posttest questionnaires occurred immediately after the training. For the Trauma-Informed Screening and Assessment, an additional posttest was administered about six months after the initial training. 556 individuals received Trauma-Informed 101 trainings, 103 received the Trauma-Informed Screening and Assessment and 304 completed the Trauma-Informed Agency-Wide training. We assess the change in knowledge by conducting paired t-test analysis and regression analyses.

Results. The majority of training participants were female (83.3%), white (29.7%) or Latino (27.1%), had at least a Bachelor’s degree (73.8%), and worked at their agency for less than 5 years (48.4%). Trauma-Informed 101 training increased knowledge by 19.3% (t(229) = 1532, p < .001). Participants in the Trauma-Informed Screening and Assessment increased their knowledge by 62% (t(49) = 9.26, p < .001), although this knowledge gain declined at the second posttest. Those receiving the Trauma-Informed Agency-Wide training increased their knowledge by 18.9% (t(91) = 9.68; p < .001).

Implications. Participating in trauma-informed trainings increased knowledge about how the long-term effects of trauma and trauma-informed practices. Mental health professionals experienced the most knowledge gain around how to conduct trauma-informed screenings and assessments, although these gains decreased over time. Having booster sessions or working with agencies to develop a specific plan to implement trauma-informed practices may result in longer term change that ultimately improves the well-being of children and families.