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COMPLETED: Understanding Trauma Among Mothers with Substance Use Issues

Principal Investigators: Iris Torchalla, Verena Strehlau, and Michael Krausz

Status: Completed

Investigators conducted a qualitative study among women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) to enrich their understanding of the role of trauma in their lives. Participants were expecting and new mothers with substance use issues and their children.

Women were recruited through Sheway, a drop-in centre in the DTES that offers a variety of services, including prenatal and postnatal care, sexual health counselling, addiction counselling, methadone maintenance treatment, nutrition counselling, parenting classes, and First Nation-specific services.

Key themes that emerged from the interviews highlighted the ubiquity of adversities and trauma among this population—often in form of gender-based violence, beginning in early childhood, continuing to adulthood, and affecting families and relationships. Women also expressed concerns that trauma can be passed from one generation to the next (Torchalla et al 2015). Investigators published quantitative data from this study as well (Linden, Torchalla, and Krausz 2013).

After the study, investigators continued to collaborate with Sheway, and after receiving a Knowledge and Dissemination grant from CIHR, developed a series of two-hour workshops on a variety of topics that both clinicians and researchers found relevant for providing services for this group of women.

Download the Sheway Workshop Manual: Trauma informed care for women who use substances (PDF file)


Download the accompanying slide deck for the manual (PDF file)

Health research in the heart of Vancouver