Emerg Med J doi:10.1136/emermed-2013-202429
  • Original article

Patient expectations of minor injury care: a cross-sectional survey

  1. Steve Goodacre
  1. School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Steve Goodacre, School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of Sheffield, Regent Court, 30 Regent Street, Sheffield S1 4DA, UK; s.goodacre{at}
  • Received 25 January 2013
  • Accepted 18 March 2013
  • Published Online First 10 April 2013


Background and objective Little is known about the expectations of patients attending the emergency department (ED) with minor injuries. Failure to address expectations may lead to dissatisfaction and poor compliance. We aimed to describe patient expectations of minor injury care and explore the association between unmet expectations and patient satisfaction.

Methods We undertook a cross-sectional questionnaire survey of 300 patients attending the ED with minor injuries on weekdays between 9:00 and 17:00. Participants completed a questionnaire asking which tests and treatments they expected, which they consequently received, whether explanations were given for tests and treatments, and how they rated satisfaction with care.

Results The most frequently expected interventions were x-ray, analgesia and bandage/strapping. In each case the proportion expecting intervention was significantly higher than the proportion receiving intervention: x-ray (58% vs 47%, p<0.001); analgesia (40% vs 20%, p<0.001); bandage/strapping (39% vs 22%, p<0.001). There were no significant differences between the proportions expecting and receiving other interventions. At least one unmet expectation was reported by 208/300 patients (69%) but an explanation was received in 151/208 cases (73%). Conversely, 106 (35%) received an unexpected intervention, of whom 79/106 (74%) received an explanation. Patients with unmet expectations tended to rate the satisfaction lower, but the difference was not statistically significant (p=0.187).

Conclusions Patients often expect interventions for minor injuries that they do not receive, but in most cases an explanation was given. We were unable to demonstrate an association between unmet expectations and reduced satisfaction with care.

Free sample
This recent issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of EMJ.
View free sample issue >>

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the articles as they are published.


Among patients with minor TBI (GCS 13-15) getting CT scans ≥ 24 hours after injury, what proportion have a traumatic finding?


0.5% - 43% response rate
3% - 41% response rate
10% - 16% response rate

Related original article: PCT head imaging in patients with head injury who present after 24 h of injury: a retrospective cohort study

Navigate This Article