A survey on the current status of burn rehabilitation services in China

Jian Chen, Wai Ping Cecilia Tsang, Hong Yan, Guangping Liang, Jianglin Tan, Sisi Yang, Jun Wu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In China, there is a very long history of burn wound treatment, but the specialised burn care units were set up only from 1958. With more than 50 years of practice, great achievements have been made in burn wound care and operations in the country. However, in terms of burn rehabilitation, the development appears to be slow. In order to determine the current status of burn rehabilitation services in China, a survey was conducted to various burn centres in China. Methods: A comprehensive survey was conducted as well as to collect data related to (1) the admissions and staffing of the burn centres; (2) availability of rehabilitation services, number and educational background of specialised personnel dedicated in burn rehabilitation therapy; and (3) the difficulties leading to the lag of the burn rehabilitation services. The survey was sent to the chiefs of 87 burn centres via e-mail and they were requested to fill out the survey questionnaire and to send it back. For those who did not respond within 1 month, a reminder was sent. Results: There are totally 39 (44.8%) burn centres responding to our survey. These centres were geographically distributed in nearly 70% of the administrative provinces in China; hence, the results could well represent the current burn care system. Most centres have recognised the importance of rehabilitation therapy and remarkable improvements of outcome in burn patients have been achieved. There are a very huge number of burn patients that need rehabilitation therapy, but most centres face the problems of shortage of rehabilitation therapists, which apparently could lead to the difficulties in delivering a quality rehabilitation programme for patients. Although the time of rehabilitation therapy is instituted far earlier than before, it is still not widely accepted in the acute burn care stage. There are more specialists joining the burn centre and becoming members of the professional burn team. However, professional education and training in the burn specialty appear to be sparse. There is room for improvement. Problems that impede the progress of rehabilitation therapy are: lack of rehabilitation knowledge in medical staff as well as the public, the shortage of specialised personnel and relatively low educational background of this team, lack of standard guidelines for rehabilitation treatment instructions and lack of funding from the government. Conclusion: After 20 years of clinical practice, rehabilitation concepts are well accepted and many forms of rehabilitation techniques are carried out in most burn centres that responded to the survey. Yet, the results also indicate that there is a short history of rehabilitation practice among the burn centres. There is a burning need to enhance the development of rehabilitation services so as to meet the demands of management of severely burned patients in China. Some suggestions are made to improve the current burn rehabilitation services which would include: (1) provide rehabilitation education programmes for burn surgeons, therapists, nurses, as well as patients, families and the public; (2) set up standard guidelines for clinical instruction of rehabilitation therapy; (3) build an interdisciplinary burn team; (4) more investigation and research on the physical and psychological outcomes of burn patients; and (5) implement administrative measures in terms of staffing, funding and offering insurance to burn survivors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-278
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013


  • Burns
  • Rehabilitation
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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