Background Gender differences have been reported both in exposure to and outcome of burn injuries. Whereas the general gender distribution of burns is relatively well known, few studies have examined gender differences in incidence and management of burns for different burn mechanisms in sub-Saharan Africa.
Methods The study is cross sectional and based on case reports of patients seeking care for a burn injury at Emergency Centres in eight health care facilities in the Western Cape Province, South Africa between June 2012 and May 2013 (n = 1915). Gender specific incidence rates were compiled for age groups 0–4, 5–9, 10–14, 15–19, 20–54 and 55+. Differences in proportions in men and women were examined for AIS, length of stay and disposition. All analyses were stratified by burn mechanism.
Results Children 0–4 years have the highest incidence of burns with boys and girls relatively equally affected. Gender differences in burn incidence are found in ages 20 years and older. Men 55 years and older have a higher risk compared to women for hot liquid burns whereas men aged 20–54 have a higher risk of fire burns. While no gender differences in children are observed in injury management, adult men are significantly more transferred than women (all burn mechanisms aggregated) while women with both hot liquid and fire burns are treated as outpatients to a higher extent. No gender difference in AIS or length of stay are found among adults.
Conclusions Even though burn incidence is highest among children, gender differences in burn incidence and management are mainly visible in adults. Results about men being transferred and women treated as outpatients to a higher extent in spite of similar AIS raise the question of hidden gender biases in the healthcare.
- Burn injury
- gender differences
- sub-Saharan Africa
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