Return to Work and Health-related Quality of Life after Severe Burn

Abstract: A major burn is one of the most severe traumas a person can experience, and recovery can be a protracted process. The principal aim was to increase the knowledge base regarding factors related to return to work and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) after burns. Patients treated at the Uppsala Burn Center between 2000 and 2007 were included on a consecutive basis. Assessments were made at hospitalization, and thereafter and included a home visit 2 to 7 years after injury. The psychometric properties of the generic HRQoL instrument EQ-5D were investigated. The results support the use of EQ-5D as an adjunct to burn-specific assessments of HRQoL. Most former patients exhibited a good HRQoL at 2 to 7 years postburn. Not working at the time of injury and having PTSD at 12 months, as well as having low scores on the EQ VAS at 12 months, were related to a worse EQ VAS score at 2 to 7 years after injury. The majority of former patients had returned to work 2 to 7 years postburn. Time to return to work was predicted by length of hospital stay and a personality disorder diagnosis. Predictors for not returning to work were length of stay and having any anxiety or substance use disorder prior to injury. Those who were not back at work reported lower generic and burn-specific health, and exhibited more psychiatric morbidity at follow-up than those who were working. The latter group exhibited HRQoL that was comparable to that of the general population. Participants emphasized their own psychological resources and capabilities as facilitators in the process of returning to active work. The findings suggest that an early and systematic approach for assessing recognized risk factors enhances the possibility of discovering patients at risk of developing problems during postburn adaptation.