Patients' perceptions of the health care received in an emergency department

Ann Emerg Med. 1991 Jul;20(7):734-8. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(05)80833-9.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to obtain information about how patients perceive the health care delivered in an emergency department.

Setting: Patients who visited the ED at a Swedish university hospital during the daytime on Monday through Friday during a four-week period and were expected to be discharged from the ED after their visit were included in the study. Other criteria for participation were the patients' mental and physical abilities to fill out a questionnaire.

Study design: One hundred eighty-seven patients (110 women and 77 men) classified as orthopedic, gynecologic, internal medical, surgical, or neurologic patients evaluated their perception of the health care delivered in the ED by filling out a questionnaire after arrival and before discharge.

Measurements and main results: The perceptions of the care received were on average quite positive. This was supported indirectly by the fact that scored pain, strength, calmness, and despair changed in a positive direction during the ED stay. However, a pattern of varying satisfaction appeared when the patients were dichotomized into three groups according to how they had perceived their first information on arrival. Fourteen percent of the patients had received exact information, 20% were partly informed, and 66% had received no information about what was going to happen to them next. Those who received the most information at the time of arrival at the ED were more satisfied with the general treatment (P less than .05), respect (P less than .01), and attitude (P less than .05) later shown by the staff as well as with the information given later (P less than .05) than were the patients who had received no information at all on arrival. The general evaluation of the ED was more positively (P less than .001) scored by the patients who received the most information (they were more satisfied) compared with the other two groups.

Conclusion: The information given to patients on arrival at the ED may be important to a positive perception of the care given during their stay.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires