It’s Not Just a Burn Physical and Psychological Problems after Burns

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Survival after severe burns has improved in recent decades, but there is limited information on the course of recovery after surviving a burn and on factors that can affect recovery.The aims of this thesis were to investigate the occurrence of physical and psychological problems after burns, and to examine the consequences of psychological problems for the clinical management of burn patients.Three groups of consecutive patients who were treated at the Burn Unit at Uppsala University Hospital between 1980 and 2005 were included in the studies. The Burn Specific Health Scale (BSHS) was used for self-report of burn-specific aspects of health. Personality traits and coping strategies as psychological factors during recovery were examined with the Swedish universities Scales of Personality (SSP) and the Coping with Burns Questionnaire (CBQ). Presence of symptoms of posttraumatic stress were assessed with the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R), and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders (SCID-I) was used to determine the concurrent validity of the IES-R as a measure of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Furthermore, the effect of pre-injury psychiatric morbidity on perceived health one year after injury was assessed.Both pruritus and nightmares were common problems after burns; 59% of the individuals in the study reported pruritus and 43% reported nightmares. Neuroticism-related personality traits and avoidant coping strategies were associated with an increased risk of having pruritus or nightmares. The presence of nightmares could be used as a screening tool for high scores in the IES-R. The IES-R was in turn shown to be a good, although overly inclusive, test for the diagnosis of PTSD. Pre-injury psychiatric morbidity predicted perceived outcome in six out of nine burn-specific health domains.These studies show that psychological factors and psychiatric morbidity affect outcome after burns.