12-Month generic health status and psychological distress outcomes following an Australian natural disaster experience: 2009 Black Saturday Wildfires Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: To describe the generic health status, health-related quality of life and psychological distress over a 12-month period of burns patients affected by the 2009 Black Saturday Wildfires. DESIGN SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Cohort study with retrospective assessment of pre-injury status and prospective assessment of physical and psychosocial functioning in the Black Saturday Wildfires burns patients across time. Generic health status and burn specific quality of life using the 36-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) and Burn Specific Health Scale (BSHS) were collected at three, six and twelve months post-burn injury. In addition, similar time points were used to measure level of psychological distress and the presence of pain using the Kessler-10 questionnaire (K-10) and the McGill Pain Questionnaire. RESULTS: At 12 months post-injury, patients reported a mean 16.4 (standard error, SE: 3.2) reduction in physical health and a 5.3 (SE 2.5) reduction in mental health scores of the SF-36 as compared to their pre-injury scores, with significant decreases observed in the "bodily pain", "physical functioning", "role physical" and "vitality" subscales. High levels of psychological distress and persistent pain were experienced, with no significant changes during the study period to the overall burns specific quality of life. CONCLUSIONS: Even 12 months post-burn injury, patients affected by the 2009 Victorian Wildfires still experienced a significant reduction in generic health, increased psychological distress and persistent pain. The need for early and ongoing identification of physical and psychosocial impairments during hospital admission and upon discharge could be helpful to establish systematic interdisciplinary goals for long-term rehabilitation after severe burn injury.


  • Wasiak, Jason
  • Mahar, P
  • Lee, S
  • Paul, E
  • Spinks, A
  • Pfitzer, B
  • Cleland, H
  • Gabbe, B

publication date

  • 2013