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Unprocessed stress – Healthcare technology as a cause and cure

Unprocessed trauma impacts technology use and recovery, with technology offering both potential harm and healing.
By admin
May 28, 2024, 3:46 PM

Sometimes, fragments of memories of trauma begin to emerge, bits and pieces of a traumatic event that has yet to be unpacked. These instances of unprocessed trauma have become especially evident in high-stress healthcare settings where such conditions as moral injury and other variants of burnout have occurred.

These stressors need not always be about direct life or death patient interactions. They are increasingly related to the victim’s relationship with the myriad healthcare technologies they interact with every day.

While EHRs have been known for years as a major source of physician burnout, such aspects as alarm/alert fatigue on wards have exacerbated stress in the nursing community.

The relationship between unprocessed trauma and technology is multifaceted, involving both the impact of trauma on technology use and the ways technology can influence trauma recovery.

Impact of unprocessed trauma on technology use

 Escapism and addiction:

  • Internet and social media: Individuals with unprocessed trauma may turn to the internet and social media as a form of escapism, leading to excessive use and potential addiction. These platforms can provide temporary relief or distraction from emotional pain but may exacerbate feelings of isolation or anxiety over time.
  • Gaming: Online gaming can serve as an escape for those dealing with trauma, offering an immersive experience that distracts from real-life issues. However, this can sometimes develop into gaming addiction, negatively impacting daily functioning and relationships.

Digital communication and relationships

  • Social connectivity: People with unprocessed trauma might rely heavily on digital communication, such as texting and social media, to connect with others, sometimes finding it easier than face-to-face interactions. This can lead to superficial relationships and a lack of deep, meaningful connections.
  • Online communities: Trauma survivors may seek out online support groups or communities where they can share their experiences and find validation. While these can be beneficial, they might also expose individuals to triggering content or reinforce negative patterns if not moderated properly.


Influence of technology on trauma recovery

 Therapeutic interventions:

  • Teletherapy: Technology has made mental health services more accessible through teletherapy, allowing trauma survivors to receive therapy remotely. This can be particularly beneficial for those who find it difficult to leave their homes or who live in areas with limited mental health resources.
  • Mental health apps: Various apps offer support for trauma recovery, including meditation, mood tracking, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) tools. These can provide immediate coping strategies and help individuals manage symptoms.

Information and education:

  • Access to resources: The internet provides access to a wealth of information on trauma and recovery strategies, empowering individuals with knowledge about their condition and potential treatments.
  • Online courses and workshops: There are many online platforms offering courses and workshops on trauma recovery, which can help individuals learn coping mechanisms and therapeutic techniques at their own pace.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR):

  • Exposure therapy: VR is being used in clinical settings for exposure therapy, where individuals can safely confront and work through traumatic memories in a controlled environment.
  • Mindfulness and relaxation: AR and VR applications can create immersive environments for mindfulness and relaxation exercises, helping to reduce stress and anxiety related to trauma.


Potential risks and ethical considerations

  1. Data privacy: The use of technology in trauma recovery raises concerns about data privacy and the security of personal information shared through apps and online platforms.
  2. Digital divide: Not everyone has equal access to technology, which can create disparities in who benefits from digital therapeutic resources.
  3. Effectiveness and validation: While many digital tools for trauma recovery show promise, their effectiveness needs to be validated through rigorous scientific research to ensure they provide genuine benefits.

Unprocessed trauma from high-stress healthcare work can significantly influence how individuals interact with technology, often leading to increased reliance on digital platforms for escapism or social connection. Conversely, technology offers innovative tools and resources that can support trauma recovery, making mental health care more accessible and providing new therapeutic modalities. However, these benefits must be balanced with considerations of privacy, accessibility, and effectiveness.

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