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Factors influencing parent satisfaction in a children’s emergency department: prospective questionnaire-based study
  1. R Pagnamenta1,
  2. J R Benger1,2
  1. 1
    Academic Department of Emergency Care, United Bristol Healthcare Trust, Bristol, UK
  2. 2
    Faculty of Health and Social Care, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
  1. Dr J R Benger, Academic Department of Emergency Care, Emergency Department, Bristol Royal Infirmary, Bristol BS2 8HW, UK; Jonathan.Benger{at}


Objective: To identify the factors considered by parents to be most important in determining overall satisfaction with care in a children’s emergency department, and to assess whether these factors are influenced by the child’s age and triage category.

Design: A prospective questionnaire-based study of parents attending a paediatric emergency department with their child.

Setting: Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, Bristol, UK.

Participants: The parent or next of kin adult accompanying a child to the emergency department during the study period.

Outcome measures: The primary outcome measure was the response to the questionnaire. The secondary outcome analysed responses according to the child’s age and triage category.

Results: During the sampling period questionnaires were distributed to the parent or accompanying adult of 247 children, of which 225 (91%) were completed. The most important factors were: a clear explanation of the child’s diagnosis and treatment plan; the ability of a parent to stay with their child at all times; rapid and adequate pain relief; and staff attitude. These factors significantly outranked waiting times and other process issues. The age and triage category of the child did not influence these preferences.

Conclusion: Despite recent emphasis on waiting times and emergency department throughput in the UK, parents still value the clinical interaction above process issues when their child visits an emergency department. Current efforts to reduce the time spent by children in an emergency department must not undermine the core service values that are most appreciated by parents, and which will lead to the greatest satisfaction.

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  • Funding: This study received funding from the Bristol Academic Department of Emergency Care which is supported by the Anthony Hopkins Memorial Prize awarded by the College of Emergency Medicine.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethics approval: Approval for the study was obtained from the Gloucestershire Research Ethics Committee (05/Q2005/29).

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