Sexuality and Disability

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 75–91 | Cite as

Burn Injuries Lead to Behavioral Changes that Impact Engagement in Sexual and Social Activities in Females

  • K. M. ConnellEmail author
  • R. Coates
  • F. M. Wood
Original Paper


Burn injuries are associated with significant changes to physical and psychological function. Little is known regarding the impact that burn injuries have on females’ sexuality and how this in turn affects their relationships and body image. This qualitative study aims to add narratives of the lived experiences of female burn survivors to provide evidence that sexuality and body image changes are important indicators of post burn adjustment and quality of life, which should be included as important components of post burn rehabilitation. This study included a phenomenological approach incorporating semistructured interviews of five women with varying size of burn. The data collection and analysis was guided by Kvale’s seven stages of interview inquiry. Burn injuries are life changing events that result in behavioural changes that impact engagement in sexual and social participation for females. These changes result in alterations to ones internalized concept of body image and attractiveness that have the potential to impact all facets of life. Findings from the thematic analysis in this study lead to the development of the Adjustment to Sexuality and Body Image Changes Post Burn Injury Model. This model conceptualizes potential body image and sexuality changes post traumatic injury and identifies possible areas for targeted interventions that could be incorporated into rehabilitation services. Burn injuries are correlated with behavioral changes that have a potential adverse impact on sexual and social engagement for female burn survivors. Further research investigating treatment strategies for post burn adjustment is required to translate to improvements in clinical service provision.


Sexuality Body image Disability Burn injuries Australia 



Kylie Connell has received the Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) Scholarship, Curtin University and a Curtin Research Scholarship, Curtin University. For the remaining authors no sources of funding were declared.

Conflict of interest

I declare that there are no known conflicts of interest with regard to this research article for all authors involved.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sexology Department, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Public HealthCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  2. 2.Fiona Wood FoundationPerthAustralia
  3. 3.Burns Service of Western AustraliaRoyal Perth HospitalPerthAustralia
  4. 4.Burn Injury Research UnitUniversity of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia

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