Quality of life and return to work following electrical burns

Burns. 2006 Mar;32(2):159-64. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2005.08.022. Epub 2006 Jan 31.


To investigate the psychosocial outcomes following electrical burns, a cross-sectional survey of electrical burn patients was done using three outcome tools: the Burn Specific Health Scale brief version (BSHS-B), the Coping with Burns Questionnaire (CBQ), and the Pain Patient Profile (P3). Questionnaires were mailed to electrical burn patients discharged from an adult regional burn centre, and also distributed to attendants of an electrical utility conference in Toronto. Twenty-six of 88 patients who were discharged from the regional burn centre during the study period with updated residential information were contacted and 14 (54%) completed the questionnaires. Twenty questionnaires were also distributed at the conference and 8 (40%) were completed; leaving a total of 22 (48%) patients for the study. The average patient age was 44.0+/-11.7 years; 21 (96%) were men, and the average time from injury to survey completion was 5.3+/-4.9 years. Five (23%) of the 22 patients returned to the same work duties, 10 (45%) changed duties, and 7 (32%) did not return to work. BSHS-B scores were low for all patients. Participants with high voltage burns (>1000 V) had worse sexuality scores (p<0.05), while those with larger burns (>10% TBSA) had worse physical scores (p<0.05). Patients surveyed >5 years from injury showed improvement in physical scores. CBQ scores indicated that optimism was the most commonly used coping strategy. P3 showed significant levels of emotional distress in all patients, with anxiety being more common in high voltage injuries (p<0.05). The data suggests that electrical burn patients may have a limited ability to return to work and an overall poor quality of life. Emotional distress is the dominant feature influencing long-term outcome in these patients. Further studies are warranted to validate these findings.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Body Surface Area
  • Burns, Electric / psychology
  • Burns, Electric / rehabilitation*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life*
  • Rehabilitation, Vocational / methods
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Work* / psychology