Background: Parents might not feel the need to make as many visits to an emergency room (ER) for a sick child if they had more information about common illnesses and their management. This study measured the effect on future ER use of parent education on common childhood illnesses.
Methods: Children who were over 6 months old and had visited the ER at least twice in the preceding year were enrolled in an experimental group (n = 118) or in a control group (n = 128) over consecutive two-month periods. The intervention consisted of a pamphlet and a videotaped presentation that discussed the features and management of common childhood illnesses.
Results: Over the following year, an average of 0.43 (SD = 0.9) ER visits were made by experimental subjects compared to 0.52 (SD = 1.31) by control subjects (P = .30). Twenty percent (SD = .4) and 22% (SD = .4) of subsequent illnesses of experimental and control children respectively resulted in an ER visit.
Conclusion: Our study demonstrated no effect of an educational intervention designed to decrease ER visits. Limitations of our study, however, suggest that further attempts to educate parents in this setting may still be warranted.