Factors influencing hospital admissions and emergency department visits among children with complex chronic conditions: a qualitative study of parents' and providers' perspectives

Issues Compr Pediatr Nurs. 2014 Mar;37(1):61-80. doi: 10.3109/01460862.2013.855844. Epub 2014 Jan 14.


Children with complex chronic conditions (CCC) have greater health care needs and use rates than children in general. Elevated health care use includes more frequent hospital admissions, longer hospital stays, and greater health care expenses. Prior studies have examined population characteristics associated with increased hospital admissions, emergency department (ED) use, and general healthcare use, yet few studies have investigated these events from the parents' or health care providers' point of view. The purpose of this study was to explore parents/caregivers' and health care providers' perceptions of the factors placing infants and young children with CCC at risk for or protecting them against hospital admissions and ED visits. Parents or primary caregivers participated in interviews, and health care providers in pediatric acute care, pediatric primary care, and emergency care participated in focus groups. Interview and focus group data were analyzed using directed content analysis and an ecological risk and protective factors model. The analysis revealed that parents/caregivers and health care providers described risk factors and protective factors on multiple ecological levels surrounding the child with CCC. This article presents these findings, which add to current knowledge of factors influencing hospital admissions and ED visits and may be used to inform interventions addressing high health care utilization in this population. This article concludes with the implications of the findings for future research and nursing practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Parents*
  • Patient Admission*
  • Qualitative Research