Objectives: To assess and compare overall satisfaction in pediatric emergency department (ED) patients and their accompanying parents. To identify aspects of health care delivery that influence satisfaction in these groups.
Methods: Pediatric patients (ages 5-17 years) and their parents (or guardians) seen at a university hospital pediatric ED were eligible. A convenience sample of English-speaking subject pairs (n = 101 pairs) was enrolled. Questionnaires were administered to both children and their parents at the completion of their ED care. The survey instruments used a modified Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale and a six-point interval scale. Factors measured included overall satisfaction, perceptions of pain and fear, and other characteristics of the ED visit. Data were analyzed using paired Wilcoxon signed-rank tests, Spearman rank correlation coefficients, and Fischer's exact chi-square tests (alpha = 0.05) where appropriate.
Results: Parent satisfaction was associated with the quality of provider-patient interactions (R = 0.54, p = 0.0001), the adequacy of information provided (R = 0.47, p = 0.0001), and shorter waiting room times (R = -0.24, p = 0.01). Child satisfaction was associated with the quality of provider-patient interactions (R = 0.24, p 0.04), adequacy of information provided (R = 0.51, p = 0.003), and resolution of pain (R = 0.25, p = 0.03). Parent estimates were similar to children's initial pain scores; however, children reported greater resolution of pain than appreciated by their parents (p = 0.006).
Conclusions: Satisfaction can be validly and reliably measured in pediatric patients using a visual scale instrument. Factors that influence patient satisfaction were similar among both children and their parents. The influence of pain resolution on pediatric ED satisfaction is a novel finding, which demonstrates the importance of appropriate pain and anxiety assessment and treatment in children.