• burn;
  • ethics;
  • intensive care;
  • interview;
  • nursing;
  • questionnaire

Aim and objective.  To assess recollection of negative emotional experiences during burn care.

Background.  Patients in intensive care frequently report negative emotional experiences. Patients with severe burns who are treated in intensive care units undergo painful care procedures, but there have been no recent evaluations of their care experiences.

Design.  Former burn patients (n = 42) were randomly assigned to three groups: postal questionnaire, telephone interview and face-to-face interview.

Methods.  Assessments included negative care experiences (feelings of uncertainty, powerlessness, being afraid, insecure, being a nuisance, or neglected), severity of injury, patient satisfaction, personality traits and psychological symptoms.

Results.  Overall, the degree of recalled negative experiences was low and associated with greater severity of injury, more symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and lower satisfaction with care. The feeling of powerlessness was the most common, as 67% of participants had such feelings to some extent.

Conclusions.  Overall, negative care experiences were uncommon and most prevalent among the severely injured. Such experiences were also associated with psychological symptoms and lower patient satisfaction.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Although relatively uncommon, negative emotional care experiences should be monitored more closely during care.