Patient satisfaction in the emergency department--a survey of pediatric patients and their parents

Acad Emerg Med. 2002 Dec;9(12):1379-88. doi: 10.1197/aemj.9.12.1379.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Oregon
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pediatrics / standards*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies