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 , 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.