Equipping Parents to Cope With Their Child’s Injuries: A Systematic Review

Miss Jo Butler1,2, Professor Justin Kenardy1,2, Dr Alexandra De Young1,2, Dr Zephanie Tyack1,

1Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research, South Brisbane, Australia, 2School of Psychology, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia


Introduction: The period following a child’s accidental injury can be traumatic for both children and parents. Parents have an important role in the way children process these events and are an important target for interventions aimed at improving psychosocial outcomes.

Methods: PubMed, Cochrane, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Web of Science, and Embase were searched for randomised control trials (RCTs) examining acute interventions for parents of children with accidental injuries. The effectiveness of these interventions at improving various psychosocial outcomes was examined. Two independent reviewers screened studies, extracted data, and completed the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool.

Results: Nine RCTs were identified for inclusion, including populations with brain injuries (n = 4), general accidental injury (n = 3), burns and road traffic accidents (n = 1), and facial trauma (n = 1). A narrative synthesis of results was completed. Interventions varied, including aspects such as discharge support, counselling, and psychoeducation. Eight studies had a high risk of bias in at least two areas, with the ninth study having an unclear risk of bias. The RCT in burns found reductions in internalising problems (e.g. anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal), and the studies on general accidental injury found a range of unreplicated reductions in anxiety, posttraumatic stress, and depression. No effects were found in brain injury populations.

Conclusions: Some individual interventions show promise at reducing negative psychosocial outcomes, but results should be interpreted cautiously due to the high risk of bias. Factors relating to why these interventions may not have been successful will be discussed.


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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