Epidemiology of burn injuries: highlighting cultural and socio-demographic aspects

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2009 Dec;21(6):505-11. doi: 10.3109/09540260903340865.


Burns are devastating injuries that disproportionately affect people in developing countries, including children. In addition to a high mortality rate, survivors are burdened with life-long physical and emotional scars. The etiology and nature of burn injuries varies significantly by country, and this chapter explores the predominant causes and patterns of burn injury in both the developing and industrialized worlds. Gender differences play a significant role in the risk of burn injuries, across a spectrum with a predominance of women injured in fires from cooking and heating fuels in the developing world and industrial accidents primarily affecting men in developed nations. Children are particularly vulnerable to burn injuries, accounting for almost 50% of all burn patients in some studies. A majority of pediatric burns are scald injuries usually affecting very young children below the age of 5 years, and we discuss the behavioral patterns underlying this finding. Finally, the elderly form a rapidly increasing proportion of the population in many countries, and are often burdened with comorbidities that are likely to pose significant challenges in burn care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Burns / epidemiology*
  • Burns / ethnology
  • Burns / psychology
  • Burns, Chemical / epidemiology
  • Burns, Chemical / psychology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Developing Countries / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors