From survival to socialization: A longitudinal study of body image in survivors of severe burn injury

Brett D. Thombs, Lisa D. Notes, John W. Lawrence, Gina Magyar-Russell, Melissa G. Bresnick, James A. Fauerbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: Little is known about the course of body image dissatisfaction following disfiguring injury or illness. The objective of this study was to test a proposed framework for understanding the trajectory of body image dissatisfaction among burn survivors and to longitudinally investigate the role of body image in overall psychosocial functioning. Methods: A sample of 79 survivors of severe burn injuries completed the Satisfaction with Appearance Scale (SWAP), the Importance of Appearance subscale of the Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire, and the SF-36 in the hospital and at 6 and 12 months postdischarge (SWAP and SF-36). A repeated-measures analysis of covariance model was used to assess the course of body image dissatisfaction over time, and a path analysis model tested the role of body image dissatisfaction in mediating the relationship between preburn and postburn psychosocial functioning. Results: Female sex (P<.05), total body surface area burned (P<.01), and importance of appearance (P<.01) predicted body image dissatisfaction. From hospitalization to 12 months postdischarge, body image dissatisfaction increased for women (P<.01) and individuals with larger burns (P<.01) compared, respectively, to men and individuals with smaller burns. In the path analysis, body image dissatisfaction was the most salient predictor of psychosocial function at 12 months (β=.53, P<.01) and mediated the relationship between preburn and 12-month psychosocial function. Conclusion: Findings from this study suggest the importance of routine psychological screening for body image distress during hospitalization and after discharge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-212
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Volume64
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008

Keywords

  • Body image
  • Burn injury
  • Disfigurement
  • Distress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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