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Randomised controlled trial of psychological debriefing for victims of acute burn trauma

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 January 2018

Jonathan I. Bisson*
University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff
Peter L. Jenkins
St Cadoc's Hospital, Caerleon, Gwent
Julie Alexander
St Cadoc's Hospital, Caerleon, Gwent
Carol Bannister
St Cadoc's Hospital, Caerleon, Gwent
Dr J. I. Bisson, Gabalfa Clinic, 213 North Road, Cardiff CF4 3AG. Fax: 01222 627954. e-mail:



Psychological debriefing (PD) is widely used following major traumatic events in an attempt to reduce psychological sequelae.


One hundred and thirty-three adult burn trauma victims entered the study. After initial questionnaire completion, participants were randomly allocated to an individual/couple PD group or a control group who received no intervention; 110 (83%) were interviewed by an assessor blind to PD status three and 13 months later.


Sixteen (26%) of the PD group had PTSD at 13-month follow-up, compared with four (9%) of the control group. The PD group had higher initial questionnaire scores and more severe dimensions of burn trauma than the control group, both of which were associated with a poorer outcome.


This study seriously questions the wisdom of advocating one-off interventions post-trauma, and should stimulate research into more effective initiatives.

Copyright © 1997 The Royal College of Psychiatrists 

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