This study examines mother- and father-rated emotional and behaviour problems in and worries about 0- to 5-year-old children at 3 and 12 months after a burn event and the relation with parental distress. Mothers (n = 150) and fathers (n = 125) representing 155 children participated in this study. Child emotional and behaviour problems and parental worries about the child were assessed with the Child Behavior Checklist at both time points. Parents’ level of acute subjective distress was assessed within the first month after the burn event with the Impact of Event Scale. Mothers and fathers held comparable views of their child’s emotional and behaviour problems, which were generally within the normal limits. Parents’ own acute stress reactions were significantly related to parent-rated child behaviour problems at 3 and 12 months postburn. A substantial part of mothers’ and fathers’ worries about the child concerned physical and emotional aspects of the burn trauma, and potential future social problems. Parents with high acute stress scores more often reported burn-related concerns about their child at 3 and 12 months postburn. Health-care professionals should be informed that parents’ distress in the subacute phase of their child’s burn event may be related to subsequent worries about their child and to (parent-observed) child emotional and behaviour problems. The authors recommend a family perspective, with particular attention for the interplay between parents’ distress and parent-reported child behaviour problems and worries, in each phase of paediatric burn care.

Bakker, A., Van der Heijden, P. G. M., Van Son, M. J. M., Van de Schoot, R., Helsen, A., Vandermeulen, E., & Van Loey, N. E. E. (2014). The relationship between behavioural problems in preschool children and parental distress after a paediatric burn event. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 23(9), 813-822.

Nancy van Loey
Program leader Psychosocial & behavioral research (ADBC)
Nancy is related to the departement of Clinical and Health Psychology and program leader at Association of Dutch Burn Centres.