The Impact of Parental Stress on the Behaviour of a Burn Injured Child, 0 – 3 months after a Burn Event
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Objective This study examines the prevalence of problem behaviour in burn injured children who are 0 – 4 years old. Furthermore, it explores the role of TBSA, gender and age of the child and feelings of guilt of the parents on parental stress symptoms and investigates if there are differences between fathers and mothers in reporting problem behaviour, parental stress and feelings of guilt. Method Parental stress symptoms were measured with the Impact of Event Scale in a prospective cohort study with a follow up at 3 months. Problem behaviour in children was measured using the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) for 1.5/5 years. Results Complete data sets were available from 39 children. Mothers have higher self-reported posttraumatic stress and feelings of guilt and reported more problem behaviour of their child than fathers do. Multiple regression analyses showed no statistically significant effect of TBSA, gender and age of the child on parental stress on 1 and 3 months post-burn. A path analysis of the model of fathers, where stress 3 months post-burn and PTSD in the burn injured children were being used, provides a reasonably well-fitting representation of the data. Conclusions Problem behaviour in children with burns was not more prevalent in this study than it is in the general Dutch population. Remarkable results were observed in fathers. The bigger the burn, the more feelings of guilt a father experienced and the guiltier a father felt, the more PTSD symptoms their child displayed. In mothers, TBSA did not have a relationship with feelings of guilt and the CBCL.