Regional variations in burn first aid treatment. Does where you live relate to mortality?

Ms Jennifer Gong1, Dr Lincoln Tracy1, Associate Professor Dale Edgar2,3, Professor Fiona Wood2,4, Ms Yvonne Singer5, Professor Belinda Gabbe1,6

1School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 2State Adult Burn Unit, Fiona Stanley Hospital, Murdoch, Australia, 3Burn Injury Research Node, The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, Australia, 4Burn Injury Research Unit, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, 5Victorian Adult Burns Service, The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia, 6Heath Data Research UK Institute, Swansea University Medical School, Swansea University, Singleton Park, United Kingdom


Background: Early intervention with burn first aid has shown to improve clinical outcomes and lower mortality rates. This study aimed to describe the variation in burn first aid practice and patient characteristics to explain regional differences in first aid application.

Methods: Cases from the Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand (BRANZ) from July 2016 to June 2018 were extracted to examine the characteristics and outcomes of patients who do and do not receive burn first aid within three hours of injury. Admissions to Australian burn centres were stratified by socioeconomic status and geographic remoteness to explore regional variation in first aid treatment.

Results: 6,554 cases were recorded in the BRANZ during the study period. Burn first aid was applied to 76% (n=4,991) of cases. When burn first aid was applied, 79% (n=3,774) of cases received best practice first aid, defined as 20 minutes of cool running water within three hours of injury. A greater portion of patients in the highest quintile of socioeconomic advantage (22%) received best practice burn first aid compared to those in the lowest quintile (15%). Patients residing in major cities were more likely to apply best practice burn first aid compared to those in regional and remote areas (64% vs 36%).

Conclusion: This paper provides contemporary data about burn first aid. Best practice burn first aid was more prevalent in patients from areas of greater socioeconomic advantage and major cities. This may be explained by greater health literacy, and barriers in accessing a water source.


Jennifer Gong is a research assistant in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University, where she currently works on the Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand (BRANZ). She is also a biostatistics and epidemiology teaching associate within the school.  Jennifer is on track to complete her Master of Public Health this year, specialising in health economics and economic evaluation, with a minor in biostatistics.


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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