Burns in low- and middle-income countries: a review of available literature on descriptive epidemiology, risk factors, treatment, and prevention

Burns. 2006 Aug;32(5):529-37. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2006.04.002. Epub 2006 Jun 14.


Burn prevention requires adequate knowledge of the epidemiological characteristics and associated risk factors. While much has been accomplished in the areas of primary and secondary prevention of fires and burns in many developed or high-income countries (HICs), such as the United States, due to sustained research on the descriptive epidemiology and risk factors, the same cannot be said of developing or low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). To move from data to action and assist preventive efforts in LMICs, a review of the available literature was conducted to assess the current status of burn preventive efforts. A MEDLINE search (1974-2003) was conducted on empirical studies published in English on the descriptive epidemiology, risk factors, treatment, and prevention of burns in LMICs. Review of the 117 identified studies revealed basically the same descriptive epidemiological characteristics but slightly different risk factors of burns including the presence of pre-existing impairments in children, lapses in child supervision, storage of flammable substances in the home, low maternal education, and overcrowding as well as several treatment modalities and preventive efforts including immediate application of cool water to a burned area. Continuous evaluation of promising interventions and those with unknown efficacy that have been attempted in LMICs, along with testing interventions that have proven effective in HICs in these LIMC settings, is needed to spearhead the move from data to action in preventing burns in LMICs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burns / epidemiology*
  • Burns / prevention & control
  • Burns / therapy
  • Child
  • First Aid
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors