The aim of this study was to systematically review qualitative literature published between 1990 and 2006 exploring the patient experience within the emergency department (ED) with the intent of describing what factors influence the patient experience. Twelve articles were retrieved following combination of key words using five databases. The overarching categories developed from this integration of literature were; emotional impact of emergency, staff-patient interactions, waiting, family in the emergency department, and emergency environment. The patient experience issue given most emphasis by the articles under review was the caring or lack of caring regarding the patients' psychosocial and emotional needs. This was in contrast to the culture of the ED which emphasised "medical-technical" skill and efficiency. Satisfaction studies need to understand many factors and influences, qualitative methodologies have the ability to do so.
Copyright 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.