The psychological impact of paediatric burn injuries: a systematic review

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To review and synthesise qualitative literature regarding the psychological outcomes following paediatric burn injuries, and to determine if children and adolescents who experience a burn injury have elevated risk of psychopathology following the injury. Design: Systematic review of quantitative and qualitative studies. Data sources: Informit health, Medline, Embase, and PsycINFO were searched from January 2010 to December 2020. Data extraction and synthesis: Two reviewers screened articles, and one reviewer extracted data (with cross-checking from another reviewer) from the included studies and assessed quality using an established tool. Narrative synthesis was used to synthesise the findings from the quantitative studies, and thematic synthesis was used to synthesise the findings of included qualitative studies. Results: Searches yielded 1240 unique titles, with 130 retained for full-text screening. Forty-five studies from 17 countries were included. The psychological outcomes included in the studies were mental health diagnoses, medication for mental illness, depression, anxiety, stress, fear, post-traumatic stress, post-traumatic growth, emotional issues, self-harm, self-esteem, self-concept, stigmatisation, quality of life, level of disability, resilience, coping, and suicidality. Conclusions: Our findings highlight paediatric burn patients as a particularly vulnerable population following a burn injury. Studies suggest elevated anxiety and traumatic stress symptoms, and higher rates of psychopathology in the long-term. Further research is recommended to determine the psychological outcomes in the other mental health domains highlighted in this review, as findings were mixed. Clinical care teams responsible for the aftercare of burn patients should involve psychological support for the children and families to improve outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2281
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2021


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