First aid treatment for burns

CITATION: Burns. 2016 Jun;42(4):938-43. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2016.03.019. Epub 2016 May 5.

Knowledge, attitude, and belief regarding burn first aid among caregivers attending pediatric emergency medicine departments.

Alomar M, Rouqi FA, Eldali A.


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Emergency departments witness many cases of burns that can be prevented with various first-aid measures. Immediate and effective burn first aid reduces morbidity and determines the outcome. Thus, it is imperative that measures of primary burn prevention and first-aid knowledge be improved. This descriptive study determines the current level of knowledge, attitude, and belief regarding burn first aid among caregivers.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Caregivers attending four pediatric emergency departments answered a structured questionnaire for demographic information, knowledge, and the burn first aid they provide including two case scenarios. Applying cold water for 15-20min, smothering burning clothes, and covering the pot of oil on fire with a wet cloth were considered appropriate responses. The main outcome measure was the proportion of caregivers who were aware of burn first aid and did not use inappropriate remedies. Additional questions regarding the best means of educating the public on burn first aid were included. Individual chi-squared tests and univariate logistic regressions were performed to correlate knowledge with demographic features, history of burns, and first-aid training.

RESULTS: The 408 interviewed caregivers (55% women) reflected a wide range of age, occupation, and educational level. Sixty percent (60%) of respondents had a large family, with 52% reporting a history of burns. Overall, 41% treated burns with cool or cold water, although 97% had inappropriate or no knowledge of the duration. Further, 32% treated burns with nonscientific remedies alone or in combination, including honey, egg white, toothpaste, white flour, tomato paste, yogurt, tea, sliced potato, butter, or ice. Only 15% had first-aid training. While 65% of caregivers covered a pot of oil on fire with a wet cloth, only 24% reported smothering burning clothes. Participants preferred learning more of first aid for burns via social media (41%), hospital visits (30%), and television (TV) (16%). No significant correlation was found between age, family size, language, history of burns, or training and knowledge; however, female gender and higher educational level were associated with increased awareness, although this was not statistically significant (p=0.05 and p=0.17, respectively). The logistic regression accounting for all significant variables showed that the history of burns had the greatest effect on knowledge of first aid (p<0.03).

CONCLUSION: Knowledge of burn first aid among caregivers is limited, with many resorting to non-scientific remedies. Use of social media, hospital visits, and TV for first-aid education might improve caregivers’ awareness. A nationwide educational program emphasizing first-aid application of only cold water and reduced use of inappropriate home remedies for burns is recommended.

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