Which Burn Outcomes Do Patients Anticipate as Most Likely to Be Important

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Abstract

Burn therapies should focus on achieving outcomes that are most important to patients. The authors wanted to discover which outcomes newly burned patients would anticipate as most important to them and explored the association between demographic/burn characteristics and patient preferences. The authors surveyed 753 of 776 patients seen by our burn service from 2008 to 2013 during the initial encounter. Patients were asked to rate the anticipated importance of several burn outcomes including cosmetic appearance, resumption of normal function, and the lack of pain/itching on a four-item Likert scale (not important, somewhat important, important, and extremely important). The association between demographic and burn characteristics with patient’s views on the importance of various outcomes was explored with χ2 and nonparametric tests. Patient mean (SD) age was 30 (22) years, 58% were males, 69% were white. Overall, function was extremely important to 96% of patients, lack of pain/itching was extremely important to 85% of patients, and cosmesis was extremely important to 59% of patients. Cosmesis was extremely important to more females than males (69 vs 52%; P < .001) and the mean age of patients in whom cosmesis was extremely important was lower than those in whom it was not (25 vs 40; P < .001). Cosmesis was more commonly extremely important in patients with head/neck than extremity burns (67 vs 57%; P < .001). Levels of importance for function and lack of pain/itching did not differ by gender, age, TBSA, or burn location. Thus, return to normal function and lack of pain and itching appear to be more commonly very important to burn patient than the cosmetic appearance of their burns. Cosmesis was of greater importance to younger patients, female patients, and those with head/neck burns.

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