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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 41–46 | Cite as

Care-giving and Care-seeking Behaviours of Parents Who Take Their Children to an Emergency Department for Non-urgent Care

  • Corrine D. TrumanEmail author
  • Linda Reutter
Article

Abstract

Objective

This study explored the care-giving and care-seeking behaviours of parents who took their children to the emergency department (ED) of a large urban hospital in Western Canada for non-urgent care.

Method

Data were collected from a convenience sample of 114 parents during a two-week period in January 1992, using a self-administered 53-item questionnaire. The data were analyzed using nonparametric statistics (Chi-square) and thematic content analysis.

Results

Eighty-two percent of parents were unsure of or overestimated the seriousness of their child’s illness or injury. Prior to attending the ED, 40% of parents administered comfort measures and 45% gave medications. Only 17% of parents used at-home reading materials, while 31% sought lay advice. Fifty-eight percent of parents did not try to contact their family physician or the ED by telephone before coming to the ED. Forty-eight percent of parents who phoned their family physician were unable to obtain advice, and those who did were almost always referred to the ED. Eighty-eight percent of those who phoned the ED were instructed to bring the child to the ED.

Interpretation

The results suggest the need for more acceptable, accessible community primary care services.

Résumé

Objectif

Notre étude porte sur les soins prodigués et recherchés par des parents ayant amené leur enfant à l’urgence d’un grand hôpital urbain de l’Ouest canadien.

Méthode

Nous avons recueilli des données auprès d’un échantillon de commodité de 114 parents au cours d’une période de deux semaines, en janvier 1992, à l’aide d’un questionnaire à remplir soi-même comportant 53 questions. Nous avons analysé les données à l’aide de variables non paramétriques (khi-carré) et étudié leur contenu thématique.

Résultats

Quatre-vingt-deux p. cent des parents ne connaissaient pas très bien ou avaient surestimé la gravité de l’état de leur enfant. Avant de se rendre à l’urgence, 40 % avaient administré des mesures de bien-être à leur enfant, et 45 % leur avaient donné des médicaments. Seuls 17 % des parents avaient consulté des documents à lire à la maison, et 31 % avaient demandé conseil à des profanes. Cinquante-huit p. cent des parents n’avaient pas essayé de téléphoner à leur médecin de famille ou à l’urgence avant de se rendre à l’hôpital. Des parents qui avaient appelé leur médecin de famille, 48 % n’avaient pas réussi à obtenir des conseils, et les autres avaient presque toujours été aiguillés vers l’urgence. Quatre-vingt-huit p. cent des parents ayant téléphoné à l’urgence avaient reçu l’instruction d’y amener leur enfant.

Interprétation

Ces résultats suggèrent qu’il faudrait instaurer des services communautaires de soins de première ligne accessibles et de bonne qualité.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of NursingUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Sherwood ParkCanada

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