The effect of parent, child, and clinician interactions on the development of trauma responses in families

Miss Jo Butler1,2, Dr Zephanie Tyack1, Professor Justin Kenardy1,2, Dr Alexandra De Young1,2, Professor Roy Kimble1,4, Dr Megan Simons1,3

1Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research, South Brisbane, Australia, 2School of Psychology, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia, 3Occupational Therapy Department, Queensland Children’s Hospital, South Brisbane, Australia, 4Pegg Leditschke Children’s Burns Centre, Queensland Children’s Hospital, South Brisbane, Australia


Introduction: Paediatric burn injuries can be traumatic for both parents and children as a result of the initial event and subsequent treatment. Whilst there has been research on the relationship between trauma and interactions between parents and children, or between parents and clinicians in a burns context, there has been far less examining how these three parties influence each other. By failing to examine parent, child, and clinician interactions together, we lack a full understanding of the development of trauma responses in children and parents secondary to healthcare experiences.

Methods: Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with parents whose children were receiving acute treatment in an Australian outpatient burns clinic. Interview questions explored parent perceptions of how interactions with both clinicians and children influenced the ways they relate to each other. The impact of these interactions on how both the parents and children were able to cope with the trauma of a burn injury was also examined. Interviews were transcribed and thematic analysis completed.

Results: Data collection is currently underway.

Conclusions: Understanding interactions between healthcare staff, parents, and children following burn injuries will help to improve care, particularly in relation to traumatic injuries.  Examining parental perceptions of these interactions will offer a unique insight into the development of both trauma responses and coping strategies following a child’s burn.


Jo Butler is a PhD Candidate with the UQ School of Psychology and the Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research. Her current research is investigating ways we can improve psychosocial outcomes for children and their parents following a burn injury.

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