A systematic review was undertaken to identify published evidence relating to patient satisfaction in emergency medicine. Reviewed papers were divided into those that identified the factors influencing overall satisfaction in emergency department patients, and those in which a specific intervention was evaluated. Patient age and race influenced satisfaction in some, but not all, studies. Triage category was strongly correlated with satisfaction, but this also relates to waiting time. The three most frequently identified service factors were: interpersonal skills/staff attitudes; provision of information/explanation; perceived waiting times. Seven controlled intervention studies were found. These suggested that increased information on ED arrival, and training courses designed to improve staff attitudes and communication, are capable of improving patient satisfaction. None of the intervention studies looked specifically at the effect of reducing the perceived waiting time. Key interventions to improve patient satisfaction will be those that develop the interpersonal and attitudinal skills of staff, increase the information provided, and reduce the perceived waiting time. Future research should use a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate specific interventions.
- patient satisfaction
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