Paediatric medical trauma: The impact on parents of burn survivors

Document Type

Journal Article




Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Exercise and Health Sciences




This article was originally published as: Mcgarry, S. A., Girdler, S. J., McDonald, A., Valentine, J., Wood, F., & Elliott, C. (2013). Paediatric medical trauma: The impact on parents of burn survivors. Burns, 39(6), 1114-1121. Original article available here


In order to identify parents at risk of developing ongoing psychological distress after their child has sustained a burn a greater understanding of paediatric medical trauma is required. Aim: To investigate the impact of exposure to paediatric trauma on parents of children with a burn and to identify risk factors and relationships between psychological distress and resilience. Methods: Sixty-three parents were recruited. Parents completed standardised assessments measuring symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, stress, and resilience within one week of the burn occurring. Statistical analysis included t-tests, Kruskal-Wallis one way ANOVA and Spearman's Roe. Results: Parents experienced significantly more symptoms of PTSD (p = 0.001) than a comparative community population. Factors including having a daughter, witnessing the event, feeling helpless or having past traumatic experiences significantly influenced symptoms of psychological distress and resilience (p = 0.05). Conclusion: Parents of burn survivors experience significant psychological distress with low levels of resilience. As part of standard routine care health professionals should screen parents to identify those at greatest risk and provide effective evidence based interventions aimed at improving resilience and reducing stress.