Psychiatric History and Adaptation in Burn Injured Patients

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: The intertwined relationship between physical and psychological problems is a topic of much interest in the rehabilitation of severely injured patients, e.g. after a burn. The present study aims at gaining further knowledge concerning the impact of psychological factors and psychiatric morbidity on short and long-term adaptation after burn injury.Outcome was assessed for three main areas: pruritus, return to work and psychiatric health. Three separate samples of previous or current adult patients treated at the Uppsala Burn Unit during different time periods: 1980-1995 (n=248), 1996-2000 (n=86), and 2000-2005 (n=73), were assessed.Chronic burn-related pruritus is more common than previously reported and psychological factors such as anxiety-related personality traits and coping are significantly associated with its presence.Only a small group of former patients with work-related accidents were not working an average of nine years after injury. The unemployed reported more pain and worse perceived health, particularly in psychosocial domains.Returning to work was explained by both injury severity and personality characteristics. Those who were not working had lower health-related quality of life and poorer traumarelated physical and psychological health, and more pain.Preburn psychiatric morbidity is high in a lifetime perspective. Two thirds of the sample had at least one disorder according to the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I disorders. Affective disorders were especially highly represented. A logistic regression showed that having a history of preburn disorders was associated with a higher risk of both PTSD and depression one year after the injury. In this material it was actually uncommon for a patient without a preburn psychiatric history to develop postburn psychiatric symptomatology.The results have strengthened the overall model for adaptation after burn injury by showing that psychological factors and psychiatric history are important moderators of the adaptation process after the injury.