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106 Researching children’s experience of traumatic events; exploring child behaviour in dwelling fires
  1. Julie Mytton,
  2. Trudy Goodenough,
  3. Claire Novak,
  4. Jane Hughes,
  5. Julie Woodley
  1. University of the West of England, Bristol, UK


Background Understanding child behaviour during injury-risk events supports development of injury prevention education and interventions, but asking children to recall events may cause distress. We found an absence of published evidence on child-reported behaviour in accidental dwelling fires. Therefore we aimed to develop methods to; identify and recruit families who had an accidental fire at home; enable families to tell their stories with minimal distress, and test the feasibility of such methods for a future study.

Methods Consultation with frontline, educational and strategic staff in the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS), parents, young people, the mother of a burned child and working with a clinical psychologist and ethics committee Chair informed the development of methods for family identification, recruitment and participation. The DSFRS identified dwelling fires in the previous 12 months and sent study information inviting families to contact the research team.

Results Leaflets sent to 218 households resulted in 8 enquiries (3.7% response) and 3 families recruited (1.4% participation). Families were more likely to engage if contacted 3–6 months after the fire than if >6 months. Five parents and 6 children took part. Face-to-face interviews included a meeting with the parents alone to learn about the fire and negotiate arrangements for the children’s interview, conducted later that day, led by a psychology researcher. Art materials enabled children’s storytelling and strategies provided to stop the interview if children became distressed. Support for families and researchers after the interviews was required.

Conclusions Engaging families in qualitative studies of potentially distressing injury-risk events requires extensive preparation, flexibility and negotiation. Examples of materials and learning from this study will be presented and may be applicable to other injury research studies where hearing the voice of the child is paramount.

  • Children
  • Fire safety
  • Qualitative study
  • Methodology

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