INTRODUCTION: There is limited understanding of how burn injuries at different ages are associated with normal growth and development as well as the burn recovery process. This study provides new useful insights by comparing social participation outcomes among burn survivors injured in childhood compared with injuries sustained in middle age, and older adulthood.
METHODS: Items from the development of the LIBRE profile were administered to 601 adult burn survivors with ≥5% TBSA burned or burns to critical areas (hands, feet, face, or genitals). Each item was answered on a 5-point Likert scale with higher scores denoting better outcomes. Mean scores for the 6 LIBRE profile scales (sexual relationships, family and friends, social interactions, social activities, work and employment, and romantic relationships) were compared between those burned as children (<18years) and those burned as adults (≥18years). Regression analyses were used to assess differences between groups with adjustment for demographic and clinical characteristics.
RESULTS: Of the 597 burn survivors having complete data on age at injury, 165 (27.6%) sustained burn injuries as a child. Those burned as children were more frequently female than those burned as adults (57% vs 47%) and were also more frequently white non-Hispanic (89% vs 77%). Marital status and education level were similar in the two groups. Those who were burned as children had slightly higher scores on the social activities, work and employment and romantic relationships scales. However, these differences did not persist in adjusted regression analyses.
CONCLUSIONS: Burn survivors who sustained injuries as a child fared at least as well as those burned as adults in a broad range of long-term social participation outcomes. The impact on long-term social participation outcomes of burn survivors was not significantly different between individuals with burns sustained during important developmental stages at young ages and those injured later in life.