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November 1969

Etiology and Management of Severely Burned Children: Psychosocial Considerations

Am J Dis Child. 1969;118(5):680-686. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1969.02100040682002

A SEVERE burn in a child is an extremely stressful experience for both the child and his family. Not only is the physical recovery slow and painful, but the psychological trauma has long-lasting effects. Follow-up studies1,2 of the children who have recovered physically from severe burns have revealed that emotional disturbances exist in approximately 80% of the children and 60% of their mothers. The majority of these mothers thought the disturbances in their children were the result of the burn experience, pain, and the separation from home during the hospitalization. However, Long and Cope3 report a high incidence of psychopathology in the family unit antedating the burn incident, and Vigliano et al4 further suggest that chronic relationship problems may become overtly manifest only at the time of the children's burns. Previous work by the present authors also emphasizes the importance of considering the "battered child syndrome" in