This site is no longer active. For further information about current research in children's burns, please contact the following theme leads:

Clinical management: Dr Amber Young
Nursing research: Karen Coy
Psychosocial recovery and support: Prof Di Harcourt
Prevention: Prof Alison Kemp

Psychosocial adjustment and support

Theme lead: Professor Diana Harcourt

The psychosocial consequences of a burn injury can be substantial and ongoing. However, many children and young people and their families manage this difficult situation very well.

The psychosocial research being carried out within the Children’s Burns Research Centre is aiming to find out why some people adjust better than others, and which psychological factors make a difference to levels of distress.

The programme is exploring ways of improving psychological outcomes and the rehabilitation of those affected back into school and social networks.

The research is being supervised by psychologist Julia Cadogan at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England, Bristol.

Current research

Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMS)

An ongoing programme of work, building on systematic reviews and qualitative research conducted by the team, has developed 3 draft PROMs. We have completed data collection from over 700 adults, young people and parents of children affected by burn injuries in a multi-centred study of the draft PROMs in order to shorten them ahead of their use in burns services across the UK.

This project is funded by The Scar Free Foundation, The University of the West of England, Bristol and Restore.

The Psychological Effects of Burn Itch in Children Study

The primary aim of Julia Cadogan’s study is to explore the psychological effects of burn itch in children and their families who are undergoing treatment from the South West Children’s Burn Centre (SWCBC) outpatient service.

The secondary aim is to determine the ways in which burn itch affects children’s quality of life post injury and develop recommendations as to how the multi-disciplinary burn service may improve the care provided. These results will inform the development and subsequent review of patient information to improve families’ understanding of burn itch and how to support affected children. This review could be developed into a service evaluation project which would include assessing families understanding of burn itch before and after accessing the newly developed patient information.

This project is funded by The Scar Free Foundation.

Support for families affected by burn injuries

Jen Heath, a PhD student supervised by Diana Harcourt, Heidi Williamson and Lisa Williams (Chelsea & Westminster Burns Service) is exploring the current provision of support for parents of children affected by burn injuries through literature reviews, interviews and surveys, with the view to evaluating the feasibility of new interventions. Response to a call for participants has been very positive and, to date, Jen has interviewed 8 parents of children affected by burns.

This project is funded by The University of the West of England, Bristol.


There is a paucity of information about self-harm or acts of self-injurious behaviour in young people which result in burn injuries. This study is reviewing patient notes of children and young people presenting to Bristol Children’s Hospital emergency department, to ascertain the incidence of self-harm amongst young people presenting with burn injuries. The causes for these types of behaviours are complex and often associated with depression, anxiety, bullying, substance misuse, issues related to body image and concerns about intimacy (Garisch and Wilson, 2015) The majority of the research has focussed on adult self-injury in the area of burns with reported incidences of 25% (Malic et al.). Ultimately, the aspiration is to develop a more accurate profile of this population and then apply this information to the delivery of clinical services.

Recently completed projects

Psychosocial interventions to support young people affected by burn injuries

A series of studies have been completed by Laura Armstrong-James, PhD student supervised by Diana Harcourt, Nichola Rumsey, Julia Cadogan and Heidi Williamson. These included 2 studies of residential camps for young people and families affected by burns, a feasibility study of the use within secondary burns care services of an online psychosocial intervention for young people aged 12-17 years affected by a visible difference of any kind, and a qualitative study of clinical psychologists’ experiences of supporting young people and their families. The PhD thesis containing these studies will be submitted in December 2016.

This project is funded by The Scar Free Foundation.

Psychosocial support for people affected by burn injuries in the UK and US

This online survey (n = 166) compared the provision of psychosocial support within burns services in the UK and US and was published in the journal Burns (PI Diana Harcourt).

Parents' views on research

The first study in the psychosocial strand of research was conducted in the summer of 2012. It was conducted by Lauren Rockliffe, an MSc Health Psychology student from the University of Bath, while she was on a placement at CAR. The study explored parents’ views about research in this area and involved interviews with parents of young people who had previously had a burn injury.

The results relating to parents’ responses to being invited to take part in research, their experiences of doing so, their views on the support available for parents and children affected by burns, and any worries and concerns they had about research, are helping us to plan our future studies. We would like to thank the parents who took part and the Frenchay After Burns Club (FAB) who helped with the recruitment into this study.

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