Characteristics and Management of Burns in Older Adults

Dr Lincoln Tracy1, Ms Yvonne Singer2, Ms Rebecca Schrale3, Ms Jennifer Gong1, Professor Fiona Wood4, Ms Anne Darton5, A/Prof Dale Edgar6,7, Rochelle Kurmis8, Miss Heather Cleland2, Professor Belinda Gabbe1,9

1School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 2Victorian Adult Burns Service, The Alfred, Melbourne, Australia, 3Tasmanian Burns Unit, Royal Hobart Hospital, Hobart, Australia, 4Burn Injury Research Unit, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, 5NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation Statewide Burn Injury Service Network, St Leonards, Australia, 6State Adult Burn Unit, Fiona Stanley Hospital, Murdoch, Australia, 7Burn Injury Research Node, The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, Australia, 8Adult Burns Service, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, Australia, 9Heath Data Research UK Institute, Swansea University Medical School, Swansea, Wales


Introduction: Burn injuries affect people of all ages, but less research has focused on burns in older adults. This is an important area given the projected increases in the proportion of older adults in our region over the next 30 years. This study aimed to provide information about the characteristics and surgical management of older adult burns patients in Australian and New Zealand.

Methods: Data from adult admissions (≥ 18 years) collected from burn centres across Australia and New Zealand between July 2009 and December 2018 were extracted from the Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand. Admissions were stratified based on their age: young adult (18-34 years), middle age (35-64 years), and older adult (65+ years).

Results: There were 17,829 admissions over the study period, with 2,398 (13%) aged ≥ 65 years. Compared to young/middle aged adults, a larger portion of older adults were female (38%), and received a scald (41%). Median total body surface area (%TBSA) did not differ between age groups (3% for all groups), but a larger proportion of older adults had deeper burns (63%). A larger proportion of older adults (26%) underwent multiple debridement procedures compared to young/middle aged adults (24%).

Discussion & Conclusion: Older adults with a burn injury sustained their burn in different ways and settings compared to young/middle aged adults and received different surgical management. The findings from this study can be used to improve planning and care processes in older burn injured patients.


Dr Lincoln Tracy is a Research Fellow in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University, working on the Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand.

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