Children and families’ experiences of adhering to scar treatments

Ms Jessica Killey1, Dr Megan Simons1,2, Professor Roy Kimble1,2, Dr Zephanie Tyack1

1Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research, UQ, South Brisbane, Australia, 2Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, South Brisbane, Australia


Background:Despite being complex and time-consuming, non-invasive scar treatments such as pressure garments and silicone gels are frequently used to manage scarring in children for months or years after a burn. However, little is known about young children and their families’ experiences of adhering to these treatments.

Methods:This study aimed to develop a grounded theory of child and caregiver perceptions of adherence to scar treatments that will inform a new adherence intervention. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with children 8 to 16 years and caregivers of children 0 to 16 years who attended the burns centre at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, Brisbane for non-invasive scar treatments. Theoretical sampling was used to develop codes and categories. Information regarding socio-demographics, health literacy, comorbidity and scar symptoms was collected.

Findings:Thirteen interviews were conducted (mostly in participant’s homes) with caregivers of children receiving scar treatments (n = 11) and children themselves (n = 2). Caregivers were mostly female (n = 10, 91%) and their median age was 35 years (IQR: 30 – 40 years). Children included a male (12 years) and female (7 years). Preliminary codes included the use of distraction techniques to support pressure garment wear in young children and caregiver perceptions of what it feels like to wear a pressure garment. Caregivers described how incorporating scar treatments into everyday routines facilitated adherence.

Discussion: Based on the development of a grounded theory, implications for a new adherence intervention that may be used by children with burns and their caregivers will be described.


Jessica Killey is an occupational therapist who has previously worked with adults with burn injuries. She is currently completing her PhD which is focussed on optimising adherence to scar treatments in children with burns and their families.


ANZBA is a not for profit organisation and the peak body for health professionals responsible for the care of the burn injured in Australia and New Zealand. ANZBA encourages higher standards of care through education, performance monitoring and research.

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