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Burns. 2014 Sep;40(6):1079-88. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2014.04.017. Epub 2014 May 22.

Psychiatric outcomes amongst adult survivors of childhood burns.

Author information

  • 1The Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies and the School of Psychology, University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. Electronic address: freya.goodhew@adelaide.edu.au.
  • 2The Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies, University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.
  • 3The Burns Unit, Adelaide Women's and Children's Hospital, South Australia, Australia.
  • 4School of Psychology, University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.



Research on the adult psychiatric outcomes of childhood burns is limited.


To examine the rates of DSM-IV psychiatric disorder amongst adult survivors of paediatric burns, and to explore factors likely to contribute to variation in outcomes. In line with Meyer and colleagues [1], it was expected that high levels of psychopathology would be found.


Participants were 272 adults hospitalised for burns during childhood between the years 1980 and 1990. Structured interviews and self-report questionnaires were used to assess psychiatric symptoms.


Lifetime prevalence of any DSM-IV disorder was 42%, 30% for depressive disorders, and 28% for anxiety disorders. Eleven percent had made a suicide attempt. Female gender, single relationship status, higher level of disfigurement, longer hospital stays and higher number of burn-related surgeries were associated with adverse psychiatric outcomes.


High rates of suicidality and depression were concerning in adults with a history of childhood burns. Factors found to predict psychiatric outcomes could be used to direct interventions and further research is needed to establish how this could best be done.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd and ISBI. All rights reserved.


Adult outcomes; Anxiety; Depression; Paediatric burns; Psychological outcomes; Suicidality; Trauma

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