Are burns a chronic condition? Examining patient reported outcomes up to 20 years after burn injury-A Burn Model System National Database investigation

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2022 Jun 1;92(6):1066-1074. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000003547. Epub 2022 Jan 25.


Background: People living with burn injury often face long-term physical and psychological sequelae associated with their injuries. Few studies have examined the impacts of burn injuries on long-term health and function, life satisfaction, and community integration beyond 5 years postinjury. The purpose of this study was to examine these outcomes up to 20 years after burn injury.

Methods: Data from the Burn Model System National Longitudinal Database (1993-2020) were analyzed. Patient-reported outcome measures were collected at discharge (preinjury status recall) and 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, and 20 years after injury. Outcomes examined were the SF-12/VR-12 Physical Component Summary and Mental Component Summary, Satisfaction with Life Scale, and Community Integration Questionnaire. Trajectories were developed using linear mixed models with repeated measures of outcome scores over time, controlling for demographic and clinical variables.

Results: The study population included 421 adult burn survivors with a mean age of 42.4 years. Lower Physical Component Summary scores (worse health) were associated with longer length of hospital stay, older age at injury and greater time since injury. Similarly, lower Mental Component Summary scores were associated with longer length of hospital stay, female sex, and greater time since injury. Satisfaction with Life Scale scores decrease negatively over time. Lower Community Integration Questionnaire scores were associated with burn size and Hispanic/Latino ethnicity.

Conclusion: Burn survivors' physical and mental health and satisfaction with life worsened over time up to 20 years after injury. Results strongly suggest that future studies should focus on long-term follow-up where clinical interventions may be necessary.

Level of evidence: Prognostic and Epidemiologic; Level III.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burns* / complications
  • Burns* / epidemiology
  • Burns* / therapy
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Quality of Life* / psychology
  • Survivors / psychology