Karen Badger, PhD, MSW, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, Amy Acton, RN, BSN, and Pam Peterson, RN, BSN, The Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors
"¢ Identify priority needs of burn survivors and grieving survivors involved in a large-scale fire

"¢ Discuss potential support resources to assist their psychosocial recovery and inform longitudinal intervention planning

INTRODUCTION:   In 2003 a catastrophic fire occurred at the Station Nightclub,Rhode Islandthat impacted many individuals, families, and the surrounding community. The fire resulted in 100 casualties and significant emotional and physical injuries for many others. Efforts to heal and move forward have been made since the occurrence of this tragedy.   This study assessed the psychosocial recovery of those impacted by the fire and identified priority needs of respondents.

METHODS:  In this cross-sectional study surveys were mailed to 226 potential respondents who were either injured in the fire or experienced the loss of a relative in the event for whom mailing addresses were available. A second follow-up mailing was also employed. After accounting for surveys that were undeliverable, the n was adjusted to 194. Participants responded anonymously and the data collected requested no personal identifiers.

RESULTS:  The response rate obtained for the survey was 24% (n = 46). The majority of the respondents were female (n = 30) with an average age of 49 years. Thirty-three percent of the sample were burn-injured (n = 15), reportedly sustaining an average 16% TBSA burn and experiencing an average hospital LOS of 50 days.   Eleven percent of the respondents (n = 5) sustained smoke inhalation injuries, and an additional 11% (n = 1) reported that they were in the fire but were not physically injured. Forty-three percent of the respondents (n = 20) experienced the loss of a loved one as a result of the fire. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder related symptoms of participants were assessed utilizing the Impact of Event Scale-Revised, which produced an overall scale score of 44.63 [possible range 0 (lowest) - 88]. The Intrusion symptom sub-scale yielded the highest mean score [M = 2.37, range 0 (low) - 4] for the overall sample. Items utilized from the State Hope Scale assessed respondents' perception of level of hope, success, and goal attainment (Chronbach Alpha = .93), yielding a mean score of 13.57 (SD = 7.1.) with a possible range of 3(low) to 24(high). The overall score on the State Hope Scale was negatively correlated with the overall score on the IES-R at a significant level (r = -.46, p =.004). Topics of Survivor's Guilt (M = 3.48), Grief/Loss (M = 3.51) and Trauma Reactions (M = 3.67) were rated as the most important areas for additional education or support [scale of 1 (most important) to 6]. To assist with recovery, half of the sample attended counseling, 22% utilized group support, and 13% received individual peer support. Respondents cited Family/Friends (22%) and Faith (20%) most frequently as important recovery supports with the greatest frequency in a qualitative response. Tangible support received from a designated relief fund was also noted as beneficial by many respondents. Close to half of the sample (45%) had returned to jobs full-time similar to those they held prior to the fire. Qualitative data showed that respondents identified outstanding current and anticipated needs in physical, emotional, self-sufficiency, and community categories.

CONCLUSIONS:  Although this study utilized a small sample, these data suggest that respondents have made recovery gains but are still in need of attention and support to address the impact of the event.   The findings from the study indicate that targeted educational and support services may be helpful to continue to support respondents' ongoing recovery efforts, despite the years after the event. This study has implications for the planning of psychosocial intervention in response to traumatic events that have community-wide ramifications.

 

 

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