Trauma occurs suddenly and without warning, leaving the family ill-prepared to deal with the stressful event. Because this experience is often the first of its kind for the family, they may have no experience in dealing with these situations. Depending upon which member of the family is injured, a family's entire lifestyle could be disrupted, necessitating a shift in family roles and responsibilities. Previous coping skills are generally inadequate, and feelings of helplessness and powerlessness abound. The unknown time frame for recovery from the traumatic event is an additional stressor. Loss of the traditional family structure and inadequate support systems require that the trauma nurse be able to assist families of trauma victims in this time of crisis. To effectively support the family, the nurse must understand the impact of trauma and typical family responses to crisis. The key to effective management of these families is early assessment and appropriate intervention through providing information, active listening, facilitating flexibility in visiting, and family conferences.

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