“I just get scared it’s going to happen again”: a qualitative study of the psychosocial impact of pediatric burns from the child’s perspective

Alix Woolard, Nicole Wickens, Lisa McGivern, Patricia de Gouveia Belinelo, Lisa Martin, Fiona Wood, Elmie Janse van Rensburg, Helen Milroy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Advances in medicine have improved the chances of survival following burn injuries, however, psychosocial outcomes have not seen the same improvement, and burn injuries can be distressing for both the child or young person, negatively affecting their wellbeing. Pediatric burn patients are at a higher risk of developing psychopathology compared to the general population. In order to promote resilience and prevent psychopathology post-burn injury for pediatric burn patients, it is crucial to understand the experience of children and young people after a burn. This study aimed to understand the psychosocial impact that a pediatric burn has as perceived by the pediatric burn patient. Methods: Seven pediatric burn patients were interviewed from the Perth Metropolitan area on average 3.1 years after their injury. All participants had been admitted to hospital for their acute injury and stayed for a median length of 2 days in hospital. Interviews with pediatric patients took place online, and the patients were asked about their mental health, coping strategies, changes to lifestyle and supports following their burn injury. The interviews were transcribed and then thematically analysed using an inductive approach. Results: Three overarching themes were developed from the interviews: burn-specific impact on the child or young person (including appearance concerns, family factors, and lifestyle factors), the psychological impact (including positive and negative impact on mental health), and factors supporting the recovery journey (including coping strategies and support services). The participants in our study highlighted issues they faced during recovery, the positive and negative impacts of the injury and recovery process and provided suggestions for future opportunities to bolster resilience and promote growth for pediatric burn patients who may face similar challenges in the future. Conclusion: Factors that improve the mental health and wellbeing of pediatric burn patients should be promoted, such as mental health and social supports, the promotion of adaptive coping mechanisms, and meeting the needs of the family unit as a whole. Ultimately, the implementation of trauma-focused, family centred interventions is crucial for the psychosocial recovery of pediatric burn survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number280
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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