Journal Article

439 A Bird’s Eye View of Current Burn Peer Support Group Formats and Their Participants

L Janik, K Richey, P Walker, N McCoy, R Julien, A Kowal-Vern and K Foster

in Journal of Burn Care & Research

Volume 39, issue suppl_1, pages S191-S192
Published in print April 2018 | ISSN: 1559-047X
Published online April 2018 | e-ISSN: 1559-0488 | DOI:
439 A Bird’s Eye View of Current Burn Peer Support Group Formats and Their Participants

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  • Medicine and Health
  • Acute Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care
  • Surgery


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Peer support within the burn community has been useful in transitioning burn patients and their families into survivorship. Literature about the ideal format for burn peer support groups and the experiences of participants is lacking. The purpose of this project was to describe group formats in use currently across the country, and to examine both positive and negative experiences of group members.


Surveys were distributed to selected burn peer support groups in the United States. Group facilitators were asked to complete an 8-item survey describing the format of their group. Group members were administered a 17-item survey designed to describe their experiences.


Eleven centers returned surveys from 10 facilitators, 59 burn survivors (BS) and 20 family/friends (FF). All groups met in person, with an average meeting attendance of 10 participants. The mean age of BS was 52 years, average years post burn was 4.5, with the majority (75%) having both hidden and visible scars. There were significant differences between BS and FF when asked about benefits of group attendance. Alleviation of loneliness, was identified by 93% of BS as a benefit, compared to 7.4% of FF (p=.004); Improved self-esteem, BS 90% vs FF 9.8% (p =.001); Opportunities to practice social skills and coping strategies, BS 88% vs FF 12% (p=.001); Personal growth, BS 82% vs FF 18% (p=.036). There were no significant differences between BS and FF for the benefits of Sense of connection, Enhanced hopefulness and meaning to life, or Assistance with post-burn adjustment to life. When asked about difficult emotions dealt with in group, BS and FF did not differ significantly for Rejection, Burn-out, and Guilt. In reference to Jealousy/Comparison, 94% of BS identified the need to deal with these emotions compared to 6% of FF (p=.025). Both BS and FF had an overall sense of safety, and felt able to share their experiences and feelings. In response to the query as to whether it would be beneficial to have the BS and FF meet separately, both BS (50%) and FF (55%) expressed a desire for Sometimes or Always.


The benefit of peer support groups for BS and FF is clearly indicated in this study. Compared to Family/Friends, Burn Survivors derived significantly more benefits in meeting attendance, with particular regards to the need for inclusion, improved self-esteem and coping, and overall personal growth. While including FF in peer support groups is invaluable, having intermittent BS only and FF only meetings in addition to the current format should be considered. This will permit both populations - BS and FF - to reap the ultimate benefits and specific needs in recovery post burn.

Applicability of Research to Practice

Tailoring Burn Peer Support Groups to the needs of BS and FF is necessary to maximize benefits for all participants.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Medicine and Health ; Acute Medicine ; Emergency Medicine ; Critical Care ; Surgery

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