Life after Burn
We interviewed Dr. Lisa Martin to learn more about the Life after burn project.
Briefly, what is Life after burn about?
The Life after burn book comprises snippets of stories written by patients, for patients. It has been written to help patients with more recent burns benefit from the experiences of patients who had a burn injury previously.
Tell me what sparked this project?
Working as a nurse researcher with burn-injured adults it became very clear that some patients do better than others despite similar type, severity, and bodily location of burn. I started to explore this concept with patients to find out why. I wanted to know if we could take some of the ingredients that meant a burn patient would do well in the long-term, ‘bottle it’ and find a way to give this to our patients who were finding recovery more difficult.
Who is the audience for Life after burn and what is its purpose?
The purpose is to help any adult who has had a burn injury to manage their recovery in a way that acknowledges the difficulties and enables optimal recovery. The aim was to use true patient stories to give new or different perspectives on various aspects of burn recovery. The stories are interspersed with expert advice from the burns multidisciplinary team, especially from the burns clinical psychologist and other psychology professionals.
How did you create the Life after burn book?
I started by talking with patients who had had severe burns, and we discussed postburn stress, growth and barriers to recovery. From these conversations it emerged that there were changes in worldview that allowed people to recover better after burn. Some of these changes included closer relationships with others, more compassion to the self and others, pride in personal strength, and reprioritising values. It became clear that it was the changes in worldview that drove change, requiring seeds of hope, acceptance, and determination. These seeds could best thrive in the right environment, one of family and social support, and when emotions are well managed. In other words, reframing thoughts was essential, but this change had to come from within. What better way to sow seeds of change than through storytelling from others who have been through their own burn recovery journeys.
I extended the project, and continued to talk to patients after their burn injuries. I spoke to patients who were willing to tell their stories, share titbits of information about things that they found helpful in their recovery, and collect any tips and advice they might have. The stories became the heart of the book. It also became clear that one of the biggest difficulties that people have is the relating of their own story when they are asked what happened, and resulted in another chapter to help people to find ways to tell their own story. The prototype was tested by different groups of burn patients, tweaked, named and finalised for printing.
What is the need that Life after burn seeks to address?
The Life after burn book seeks to help anyone who has had a burn with their psychological recovery. We have had a print run of 500 books are these are available free-of-charge to any of our patients who attend the burn outpatient clinic at Fiona Stanley Hospital. If you are a current patient, this might be offered to you, but if not, simply ask for a copy.
What outcomes does Life after burn seek to achieve?
We hope the books are found to be personally helpful to patients in their burn recovery journey.
Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?
Yes. Your feedback is important to us. If you feel this book is useful then we can use your feedback to seek further funding to make more copies available for future patients.
If you have a copy please feel free to let us know what you think. Send any comments, feedback or suggested improvements to FSH.BurnResearch@health.wa.gov.au
Or via the QR code on the back of most of the copies.
I would also like to say a big thank you to the Fiona Wood Foundation and the Raine Foundation, without their support we would not have been able to undertake this project. I was fortunate to receive funding for the Raine/Cockell Fellowship which supported the development and evaluation of the book. Further support and the printing of the books were funded by the Fiona Wood Foundation.