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Perceived stress and posttraumatic growth in caregivers of pediatric burn patients undergoing mHealth-enhanced outpatient burn care: A pilot study.

Burns 2024 April 5
Approximately 120,000 children in the United States are evaluated in the emergency department annually due to burn injuries. Studies have consistently documented that pediatric burns are among the most stressful events for caregivers, resulting in a wide range of emotions, including guilt, anxiety, grief, depression, and posttraumatic stress symptoms, as well as positive psychological changes, a phenomenon known as posttraumatic growth. The present pilot study aimed to explore the prevalence of elevated perceived stress as well as posttraumatic growth among caregivers of pediatric burn patients receiving outpatient burn care and using an mHealth burn platform to administer burn treatment. Our results demonstrated that, on average, caregivers endorsed similar or lower levels of perceived stress over the past 30 days compared to the general population of 30-44-year-old adults and only a third of caregivers reported elevated levels of perceived stress in the past 30 days. However, during the treatment phase, two-thirds of caregivers reported elevated levels of stress. Further, approximately half of the caregiver sample reported moderate to high levels of posttraumatic growth following their child's burn injury. This pilot study clarifies the level of the perceived stress that caregivers of burn-injured children experience, particularly during the treatment phase when they are responsible for their children's outpatient burn care (e.g., dressing changes). Additionally, the results shed light on the high prevalence of moderate to high posttraumatic growth in caregivers, with a prevalence rate similar to other trauma survivors.

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