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Peer-informed support for parents of burn-injured children

Heath, Jennifer

Peer-informed support for parents of burn-injured children Thumbnail


Jennifer Heath


Burns are the fifth most common cause of non-fatal childhood injuries. In addition to the trauma of suffering a burn, the painful and intrusive medical procedures required to treat them can impact on the developing child cognitively, emotionally, psychologically, and socially. A child’s burn injuries and their treatment can also have a significant psychosocial impact on parents, affecting their health and mental well-being. Parents can experience a reactive distress including elevated stress, anger, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, guilt, marital and financial problems, and increased responsibility and load, during the acute phase of treatment. Many must also divide their time to meet the needs of any uninjured siblings, and between work, the hospital ,and home. This PhD used mixed methods to explore the experiences, access to support, opinions of peer support, and support needs amongst parents and carers of burn-injured children. Thirteen interviews were conducted with parents, followed by a survey of a further 57 parents. The majority of parents reported that they were offered support, particularly during the acute phase of treatment. Most often, this was from nursing staff. Despite this, many parents also reported to feel isolated. Access to peer support has been recommended in the British Burn Care Standards (2013, 2018), and parents recognised the potential value of this. However, factors such as guilt, the pain of recollection, perceived stigma, time pressures, and distance to the hospital can make accessing such support difficult. The results of this research suggested that online delivery of supportive peer-informed information could be particularly appealing to parents, particularly that which retained the peer voice. With widespread access to the internet and growing dependence on computers and mobile devices, it is common for adults in the UK to seek health-related support and information on the Internet. Many parents involved in this research had searched online for burn-related information following their child’s injury but found this to be lacking. Therefore, using a partnership-based method of website development, was developed and tested with nine parents and 22 professionals before being publicly released and accessed worldwide. An initial evaluation of the performance of this new resource over the first 6 months is provided.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jan 24, 2020
Publicly Available Date Feb 14, 2020
Public URL
Award Date Feb 13, 2020


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