Posttraumatic growth, depression and coping after adult burn

Dr Lisa Martin1,3, Professor Suzanne Rea2, Winthrop Professor Fiona Wood1,2,3

1University of Western Australia, Crawley,, Australia, 2Burn Service of Western Australia, Murdoch,, Australia, 3Fiona Wood Foundation, Murdoch,, Australia


Posttraumatic growth (PTG) is “the subjective experience of positive psychological change reported by an individual as a result of the struggle with trauma”. PTG after burn is similar to PTG after other types of trauma. The aim was to assess the relationship between coping styles, and posttraumatic growth and depression in an adult burn population. 36 burn patients who required surgery for wound closure completed the PTGI, DASS-D, and BriefCOPE, and again one month later. Regression analyses assessed the relationships between measures. Of the 14 coping types identified in the BriefCOPE, three were associated with PTG after burn: positive reframing, religion and acceptance. Three coping strategies were associated with greater levels of depression after burn: behavioural disengagement, venting and self-blame. These behaviours can be used as ‘red flags’ to trigger early screening and timely treatment of depression. To maximise posttraumatic growth, interventions that promote positive reframing, use of religion and acceptance are beneficial.


Lisa has been a research fellow in burn injury in Western Australia since 2009, and has a nursing background in critical care, emergency nursing, and clinical trials. She has a Master of Public Health and is involved in burn prevention and product safety. Her PhD and post-doctoral studies explored psychological recovery after burn. Her primary role with the Fiona Wood Foundation is to lead burn research in the Centre of Excellence for Childhood Burns at Perth Children’s Hospital.

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