Disfiguring burn scars and adolescent self-esteem

Burns. 1999 Nov;25(7):581-5. doi: 10.1016/s0305-4179(99)00065-0.


Although children with burn scars are reported to have positive self-concepts, social and sexual maturation can be expected to stimulate anxiety, depression and diminished self-esteem in adolescents with disfiguring scars. This study examines complex self-regard of adolescents with burn scars. The following were hypothesized: (1) adolescents with disfiguring burn scars would view themselves as less competent than unburned normative samples; (2) subjects' perceived competence would be incongruent with the importance ascribed to the domains of physical appearance and athletic competence and (3) depression/anxiety would correlate negatively with perceived competence. Subjects were 14 adolescents: 6 male and 8 female, 13-20 years old, at least 2 years post-burn injury (TBSA = 39% +/- 23%). All had scars in at least 2 of the following areas: head/face, neck, chest, hands, genitals. Each subject was administered the Harter Self Perception Profile, a standardized measure of self-competence and value in 8 domains plus a general competence measure. The subjects were also assessed for anxiety/depression by the Child Behavioral Checklist. Overall, adolescents in this sample exhibited a similar or higher degree of self-worth as compared to their peers. However, the athletic competence and physical appearance sub-domains of self-worth for the burn survivors were significantly lower as compared to the normative group. Half of the participants rated the importance of physical appearance to be higher than their level of personal competence in this area, making for distressing emotions. Mood was similar to the normative group and mood correlated significantly with self-worth.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Burns / complications*
  • Burns / psychology
  • Cicatrix, Hypertrophic / etiology
  • Cicatrix, Hypertrophic / psychology*
  • Esthetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Psychological Tests
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Reference Values
  • Self Concept*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity