“It’s a big trauma for the family”: A qualitative insight into the psychological trauma of paediatric burns from the perspective of mothers

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


AbstractBackgroundDespite the medical and surgical improvements of paediatric burn injuries, burn injuries can be a painful and traumatic experience for the child and their family. It is therefore important to explore the experiences of caregivers who support their child throughout the burn journey. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore the traumatic nature of paediatric burns on the family from a caregiver’s perspective.MethodsThis study used a descriptive qualitative approach to conduct online semi-structured interviews with caregivers (18 years and older) of children (aged four to 17 years) that had previously been admitted with an unintentional acute burn injury to a paediatric burns unit in Western Australia. Interviews explored the child’s and caregiver’s experiences throughout the burn journey from the perspective of the caregiver and were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were analysed using Braun and Clarke’s six stages of reflexive thematic analysis.Results Eleven mothers participated in the interviews and identified a range of poor psychological and psychosocial outcomes that themselves and their child experienced. Three overarching themes were elaborated from the interviews: Child and caregiver mental health difficulties during and after the burn (including medical trauma, mental health outcomes and caregiver guilt); Lifestyle and physical changes following the burn (including disruptions to routine, appearance concerns and puberty); and factors supporting or inhibiting the recovery journey (including personality factors, coping strategies, family dynamics and support). Final considerationsThis study has presented the difficulties that children, young people, and their family face throughout a paediatric burn injury, which makes the implementation of timely and effective family-centred interventions imperative. Meeting the needs and supporting these families with their mental health throughout this traumatic recovery journey, can ensure positive psychosocial outcomes and adaptive coping strategies are adopted early on.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-274
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Early online date28 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


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