Objectives: To investigate the contribution of diagnosis-specific information sheets at discharge from the emergency department on parental understanding of the discharge instructions.
Methods: The study group consisted of a convenience sample of parents of children discharged home from the emergency department of an urban tertiary care pediatric facility (n=95). At discharge by the physician, all were given a disease-specific information sheet to accompany the physician's discharge instructions. Thereafter, the parents were asked to complete the same 13-item questionnaire used in our previous study, covering demographics, level of anxiety, and quality of physician's explanation, in addition to a description, in their own words, of their child's diagnosis and treatment instruction and an indication of their preferred auxiliary method of delivery of information. The findings were compared with the study group in the first phase study (n=287) who did not receive the disease-specific information sheet. The BMDP statistical package was used for the analysis.
Results: No statistically significant differences between the two groups in age, sex, and education, level of anxiety before or after the emergency department visit, or time of day were observed. Full understanding of the diagnosis was noted in 73% of the parents who received the information sheet and 72% of the parents in our previous study who did not. Corresponding rates of understanding of the treatment instructions were 92% and 82%. On statistical analysis, the distribution of the diagnosis-specific information sheet significantly improved parental understanding of the treatment instructions (P=0.025), but not of the diagnosis (P=0.54).
Conclusions: Although overall parental understanding of emergency department discharge instructions is good, understanding of the treatment instructions can be further improved with the use of diagnosis-specific information sheets.