Burns in Sierra Leone: a population-based assessment

Burns. 2014 Dec;40(8):1748-53. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2014.03.007. Epub 2014 Apr 24.


Purpose: Burns remain disproportionately prevalent in developing countries. This study aims to describe the epidemiology of burns in Sierra Leone to serve as a baseline for future programs.

Methods: A cluster randomized, cross-sectional, countrywide survey was conducted in 2012 in Sierra Leone. With a standardized questionnaire demographics and deaths during the previous 12 months of household members were assessed with the household representative. Thereafter, 2 randomly selected household members were interviewed, elucidating whether participants had ever had a burn in six body regions and determining burn mechanisms and patterns of health care seeking behavior.

Results: This study included 1843 households and 3645 individuals. 3.98% (145/3645) of individuals reported at least one burn-injury. The highest proportions of burns were reported in the age groups 0-4 years old (23/426, 5.4%) and 5-14 years old (37/887, 4.17%). The majority of burns (129/145, 89.0%) were caused by a hot liquid/object and the upper, extremities were the most commonly burned body regions, with 36% (53/145) of cases. 21% (30/145) of individuals with burns sought care from a traditional healer.

Conclusions: Burns are highly prevalent in Sierra Leone. Further research and resources should be allocated to the care and prevention of thermal injuries.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Burns / epidemiology*
  • Burns / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Prevalence
  • Sierra Leone / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult