Prediction of psychological symptoms in family members of patients with burns 1 year after injury


J. Bäckström: e-mail:


bäckström j., ekselius l., gerdin b. & willebrand m. (2012) Prediction of psychological symptoms in family members of patients with burns 1 year after injury. Journal of Advanced Nursing69(2), 384–393. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2012.06017.x


Aim.  To report a study of predictors of psychological symptoms in family members of patients with burns.

Background.  Family members are important as a source of social support for patients undergoing prolonged rehabilitation. Little is known about psychological symptoms of family members of patients with burns, especially in the long term.

Design.  The design of the study was prospective and longitudinal.

Methods.  Forty-four family members of adult patients treated in a burn centre between 2000–2007 completed questionnaires during care and at 3, 6, and 12 months after injury. Psychological symptoms were assessed with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Predictors for anxiety and depression were explored in regression analyses.

Results.  The mean scores indicated normal to mild symptoms in general. Moderate and severe symptom levels during care and at 12 months were demonstrated on the anxiety subscale by 15/44 and 5/39, respectively, and on the depression subscale by 5/44 and 0/39 of the family members, respectively. In the final regression models, the primary predictor was psychological symptoms at the previous assessment. Other predictors were previous life events, age, and the coping strategy avoidance.

Conclusion.  Family members of patients with burns demonstrate normal to mild levels of psychological symptoms that decrease over time. One-third show moderate to severe anxiety symptoms during care and may benefit from counselling. Previous symptoms predict later symptoms, indicating that screening with a validated instrument is useful. The results provide guidance for nurses in assessing and planning adequate interventions for family members.