Online Program

Recovery through shared experience: Psychosocial support services for burn survivors in kampala, Uganda

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Constance Morrison, Americorps Massachusetts Promise Fellow, Cambridge, MA
Burn patients in the U.S. have access to effective treatment, therapy and continuing care. Projects like the Phoenix Society's SOAR (Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery) illustrate the efficacy of peer support services in addressing the trauma of severe burn injury. In developing nations, availability of services for post-trauma care is limited. Recovery Through Shared Experience (RTSE) addressed the lack of psychosocial support services for burn survivors at Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda. Using a peer support model and involving community stakeholders, RTSE created a safe space for burn survivors to openly discuss, process and cope with traumatic injury. Designed by an American college student (and fellow burn survivor), the project involved staff at Mulago Hospital's Burns and Plastic Surgery Institute, the Acid Survivor Foundation of Uganda and St. Luke's Presbyterian Church. Nurses at Mulago Hospital led the project, coordinating patient recruitment and serving as primary facilitators at monthly adult support groups and a Child Burn Survivor Fun-Day. Community actors were critical to implementing and sustaining RTSE, allowing it to continue beyond its 2-month startup phase. This intervention reached over 65 patients and family members, through adult support group meetings, a child survivor event, acid survivor event and weekly clinic visits providing peer counseling and burn garment services. Participants gave overwhelmingly positive feedback about our events and showed marked improvement in their outlook. RTSE illustrates that peer support improves coping skills of burn survivors even when ongoing physical needs exist. This simple, inexpensive intervention is recommended for other developing country sites.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Identify effective ways to provide psychosocial services to burn patients in developing countries. Describe practical methods for fostering successful multi-disciplinary community collaboration. Identify strategies for recruiting and engaging former patients in psychosocial services.

Keyword(s): Burns, Coping

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I designed this project, wrote and received the grant and implemented the project in Kampala, Uganda. I am also a burn survivor who learned about psychosocial support services for burn patients through first hand experience and volunteer experience after my injury. Additionally, I researched these services and interviewed providers extensively before embarking on my project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.