“Managing uncertainty”: Experiences of family members of burn patients from injury occurrence to the end-of-life period

Jonathan Bayuo, Katherine Bristowe, Richard Harding, Anita Eseenam Agbeko, Prince Kyei Baffour, Frank Bediako Agyei, Frances Kam Yuet Wong, Gabriel Allotey, Pius Agbenorku, Paa Ekow Hoyte-Williams

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Although mortality rates associated with burns have decreased, there is still a significant number of persons who may not survive severe forms of the injury and thus, undergo comfort/end of life care. The experiences of family members of persons whose injuries are deemed unsurvivable remain minimally explored and there is a general lack of practice guidelines and recommendations to support them at the end-of-life period. Aim: To explore the experiences of family members whose relatives died in the burn unit to inform the development of practice recommendations. Methods: Qualitative description was employed for this study. Convenience sampling was used to recruit 23 family members of injured persons who died in the burn unit. Face to face semi-structured interviews were conducted and followed up with telephone interviews. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and thematic analysis performed inductively. Results: Three themes emerged: reactions following injury occurrence, navigating through the experience, and managing uncertainties about survival. The sudden nature of the injury led to feelings of self-blame, guilt, helplessness, and grief and these escalated at the end of life. As the family members journeyed through their uncertainties regarding the outcomes of care, they had a feeling of being a part of the patient's suffering. Family members received little professional support in coming to terms with their loss in the post-bereavement period. Conclusions: Family members experience distress following the occurrence of burns and at the endof-life period. Practice recommendations should focus on communication, bereavement, and post-bereavement support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1647-1655
Number of pages9
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Burns
  • End of life care
  • Family members
  • Palliative Care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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