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Open Access Publications from the University of California

What Do Patients Want? Survey of Patient Desires for Education in an Urban University Hospital

  • Author(s): Seibert, Thomas
  • Veazey, Kathryn
  • Leccese, Paul
  • Druck, Jeffrey
  • et al.

Introduction: This study examines the emergency department (ED) waiting room (WR) population’s knowledge about the ED process and hospital function and explores the types of educational materials that might appeal to patients and their companions in an ED waiting room. Our goal was to identify potential high-impact opportunities for patient education.

Methods: A 32-question survey about demographics, usage of primary care physicians (PCP), understanding of the ED and triage process, desire to know about delays, health education and understanding of teaching hospitals was offered to all qualified individuals.

Results: Five hundred and forty-four surveys were returned. Fifty-five percent reported having a PCP, of which 53% (29% of all WR patients) called a PCP prior to coming to the ED. It was found that 51.2% can define triage; 51% as an acuity assessment and 17% as a vital signs check. Sixty-nine percent knew why patients were seen according to triage priority. Seventy-two percent wanted to know about delays, yet only 25% wanted to know others’ wait times. People wanted updates every 41 minutes and only three percent wanted a physician to do this. Forty-one percent wanted information on how the ED functions, 60% via handouts and 43% via video. Information on updates and common medical emergencies is significantly more important than material on common illnesses, finding a PCP, or ED function (p<0.05). Median estimated time for medical workup ranged from 35 minutes for radiographs, to one hour for lab results, computed tomography, specialist consult, and admission. Sixty-nine percent knew the definition of a teaching hospital and of those, 87% knew they were at a teaching hospital. Subgroup analysis between racial groups showed significantly reduced knowledge of the definitions of triage and teaching hospitals and significantly increased desire for information on ED function in minority groups (p<0.05).

Conclusion: The major findings in this study were that many visitors would like handouts about ED function and medical emergencies over other topics. Additionally, the knowledge of functions such as triage and teaching hospitals were 70% and 69%, respectively. This was reduced in non-Caucasian ethnicities, while there was an increased desire for information on ED function relative to Caucasians. This research suggests increasing updates and educational materials in the waiting room could impact the waiting room and overall hospital experience. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):-0.]

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