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The medical response to burn disasters in Europe: A scoping review

Luís Miguel Relvas, MMed, Ana Pinto de Oliveira, PhD Candidate


Introduction: A burn disaster is defined by a mass casualty involving a large number of severely burned victims. Several countries have been confronted with these mass casualties and have developed national burn practice guidelines. This study presents a comprehensive review of the literature related to the benefits and conditions required for the introduction of a burn plan and identify successful strategies in Europe to apply in Portugal.

Methods: This study uses a scoping review approach, following the “five stages framework” suggested by Arksey and O’Malley (2005). A literature search strategy was designed to identify the relevant publications from three medical databases (PubMed/ Medline, ScienceDirect, Scopus). Studies meeting our inclusion criteria were analyzed in detail. Data analysis included a descriptive summary and a thematic analysis.

Results: The research revealed that since 2000, 67 articles have been published on the subject. Of these 67 articles, only eight refer to burn plans in Europe. The papers which were included and reviewed were descriptive studies (N = 2), research paper (N = 2), reviews (N = 3), and an editorial (N = 1). Countries with published articles were Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Conclusions: The research has shown a gap in the planning for major burn disasters in Europe. Although it is a very specific issue, and many times the approach to major disasters is carried out in a generalist way, the truth is that a burn disaster entails particularities that justify its unique approach. Since year 2000, only eight articles have been published in Europe and there are few publications showing intervention plans already tested and validated on the ground. In Portugal, there were no articles published that approaches this problem, making the rational of this work.


burn plan, burn disaster, burn injuries, mass burn casualty

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