Advances in the assessment of burn scars

Prof Roy Kimble1,2, Dr Megan Simons1,3, Dr Zephanie Tyack1

1Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research, UQ Child Health Research Centre, Centre for Children’s Health Research, South Brisbane, Australia, 2Department of Paediatric Surgery, Urology, Neonatal Surgery, Burns and Trauma, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, South Brisbane, Australia, 3Department of Occupational Therapy, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, South Brisbane, Australia


Background:This paper aims to provide an overview of advances in the assessment of burn scars over the last 5-years.  This will include recent evidence regarding the content and psychometric properties of patient-reported outcome measures, risk factors for burn scarring, and objective measures that assess individual or multiple scar characteristics. Assessments of the dose of scar interventions delivered such as pressure beneath pressure garments will also be reviewed.

Method: Data will be reported from published systematic reviews and the authors’ own work from three longitudinal cohort studies. Work will be presented from the field of burns as well as from the broader fields of scar and chronic disease where evidence in burns is not available.

Results:Comprehensive burn scar assessment should go beyond the assessment of physical scar characteristics to include sensory, social and emotional outcomes as well as the burden of treatment and adherence. Assessments from multiple perspectives may be appropriate (i.e., families, patients, clinicians). Assessments that focus on predicting and evaluating scar outcomes over time have received little attention with further research required in these areas. As clinicians working in burn care have indicated they choose assessments based on the ease of use and speed of completion feasibility of translating scar assessments into practice is an important consideration.

Discussion: Advances in the future are likely to include assessments that are better targeted to the needs of patients and tailored to patients. Future directions in scar assessment from a methodological perspective will also be discussed.





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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