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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Impact of Social Determinants of Health, Health Literacy, Self-perceived Risk, and Trust in the Emergency Physician on Compliance with Follow-up


Introduction: Patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with “low-risk” acute coronary syndrome (ACS) symptoms can be discharged with outpatient follow-up. However, follow-up compliance is low for unknown nonclinical reasons. We hypothesized that a patient’s social factors, health literacy, self-perceived risk, and trust in the emergency physician may impact follow-up compliance.

Methods: This was a prospective study of a convenience sample of discharged ED patients presenting with chest pain and given a follow-up appointment prior to departing the ED. Patients were asked about social and demographic factors and to estimate their own risk for heart disease; they also completed the Short Assessment of Health Literacy-English (SAHL-E) and the Trust in Physician Scale (TiPS).

Results: We enrolled146 patients with a follow-up rate of 36.3%. Patients who had a low self-perceived heart disease risk (10% or less) were significantly less likely to attend follow-up than those with a higher perceived risk (23% vs 44%, P = 0.01). Other factors did not significantly predict follow-up rates.

Conclusion: In an urban county ED, in patients who were deemed low risk for ACS and discharged, only self-perception of risk was associated with compliance with a follow-up appointment.

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