Clinical considerations, barriers and outcomes for paediatric burns in rural and remote areas

Dr Bronwyn Griffin1

1Centre For Children’s Burns And Trauma Research, South Brisbane, Australia

Objectives: Children residing in areas outside major metropolitan centres may be at higher risk of injury incidence and adverse outcomes as they are routinely exposed to environmental hazards, travel long distances to receive medical care and are reported as more likely to receive adequate supervision The main objective of this study is to describe the relationship remoteness has with patterns of burn injury in Queensland children aged 0- 16 years.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was performed on consecutive patients treated by the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital Burns Unit (LCCH-BU). Geographic remoteness was determined by postcode as per the Area Remoteness Index of Australia.  Descriptive analyses were conducted to examine differences between demographic and injury characteristics and if these varied between geographic remoteness groups.

Results: From 2013 to 2016,  2,540 burns families were interviewed. Overall, 91.6% were residents of the Metropolitan areas. Remoteness did not significantly differ between gender, age or Total Body Surface Area % burned. However, several factors were associated with Non-metropolitan (NM) burns including, longer admissions (p<0.0001), deeper burns (p<0.0001), grafting (p<0.0001), flame burns (p<0.001), socioeconomic disadvantage (p<0.0001) as well as burns occurring in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (p<0.0001).

Conclusion: Our results confirm that children from NM areas treated at the LCCH-BU sustained burns with complex clinical needs, who were more likely to be affected by socioeconomic challenges or cultural pressures.  This information is vital for clinicians and social services in both the rural and remote and metropolitan regions to consider whilst treating the NM  burns families who are more likely to be undergoing external stressors that could impact care capacity and clinical outcomes.


Bronwyn Griffin is currently the clinical research manager for the centre for children’s burns and trauma research group at the lady cilento children’s hospital brisbane. Her emergency roots began in the Royal children’s Hospital Melbourne and the Austin, finally ending up at the Royal children’s hospital Brisbane where she completed her PhD in pediatric trauma and injury prevention.