Paul T. Enlow

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Christina L Duncan

Committee Co-Chair

Amy Gentzler

Committee Member

Kevin Larkin


Stress and coping are important predictor of psychosocial functioning in both healthy and chronically ill populations. However, no studies have investigated the relation of stressors and coping to psychosocial functioning in pediatric burn survivors. Stress consists of major life events (e.g. death of a family member) and daily hassles (e.g. receiving a speeding ticket). Results from previous studies found that stress was related to positive and negative psychosocial functioning. Coping, on the other hand, is a response that aims to combat the stressor and promote positive adjustment. Past studies have shown that the impact of stress may be moderated by constructs such as coping. The inconsistency in findings regarding the relation of stress to psychosocial outcomes, accompanied with the lack of research on pediatric burn survivors, warrant further study of stress and coping in youth with burns. The purpose of this study was to explore how levels of stress and coping are related to psychosocial functioning in pediatric burn survivors. A sample of 40 burn survivors between the ages of 7 and 17 (M age = 12.77; 65% male) and their primary caregivers were recruited from two outpatient burn centers in the United States, a burn registry patient database, and a summer camp for children with burn injuries. Youth and caregivers each completed packets assessing a range of psychosocial and burn injury variables. Hierarchical regressions were used to test whether stress or coping moderated the association between burn-injury variables and psychosocial functioning. A third exploratory aim used hierarchical regression to examine if coping moderated the association between stress and psychosocial functioning Results indicated that neither household stress nor active coping moderated the association between burn size and psychosocial functioning. Additionally, active coping did not moderate the association between household stress and psychosocial adjustment. Greater household stress, however, was associated with more post-traumatic stress symptoms. Use of more active coping strategies was also significantly associated with better self-concept. Finally, more regular use of avoidant coping strategies was significantly related to more post-traumatic stress symptoms. Results from the current study suggest that it may be important to help pediatric burn survivors develop and utilize more adaptive coping strategies during the rehabilitative phase of their injury. Additionally, helping families learn to manage stress at home may promote adjustment following burn injuries.