Barriers to Return to Work After Burn Injuries

Peter C. Esselman, Shelley Wiechman Askay, Gretchen J. Carrougher, Dennis C. Lezotte, Radha K. Holavanahalli, Gina Magyar-Russell, James A. Fauerbach, Loren H. Engrav

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61 Scopus citations


Esselman PC, Wiechman Askay S, Carrougher GJ, Lezotte DC, Holavanahalli RK, Magyar-Russell G, Fauerbach JA, Engrav LH. Barriers to return to work after burn injuries. Objective: To identify barriers to return to work after burn injury as identified by the patient. Design: A cohort study with telephone interview up to 1 year. Setting: Hospital-based burn centers at 3 national sites. Participants: Hospitalized patients (N=154) meeting the American Burn Association criteria for major burn injury, employed at least 20 hours a week at the time of injury, and with access to a telephone after discharge. Intervention: Patients were contacted via telephone every 2 weeks up to 4 months, then monthly up to 1 year after discharge. Main Outcome Measures: A return to work survey was used to identify barriers that prevented patients from returning to work. A graphic rating scale determined the impact of each barrier. Results: By 1 year, 79.7% of patients returned to work. Physical and wound issues were barriers early after discharge. Although physical abilities continued to be a significant barrier up to 1 year, working conditions (temperature, humidity, safety) and psychosocial factors (nightmares, flashbacks, appearance concerns) became important issues in those with long-term disability. Conclusions: The majority of patients return to work after a burn injury. Although physical and work conditions are important barriers, psychosocial issues need to be evaluated and treated to optimize return to work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number12 SUPPL. 2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007



  • Burns
  • Employment
  • Rehabilitation
  • Work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation

Cite this

Esselman, P. C., Wiechman Askay, S., Carrougher, G. J., Lezotte, D. C., Holavanahalli, R. K., Magyar-Russell, G., ... Engrav, L. H. (2007). Barriers to Return to Work After Burn Injuries. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 88(12 SUPPL. 2).