Article Text

Download PDFPDF
What do adolescents want from their ED? An evaluation on the preferences and opinions of adolescents attending local EDs
  1. Anna Bryans1,
  2. Julian Camilleri-Brennan1,
  3. Lei Hua1,
  4. Nandesh Patel1,
  5. Rebecca Price1,
  6. Jen Browning2
  1. 1 University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2 Royal Hospital for Sick Children Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Anna Bryans, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH16 4SB, UK; s1201949{at}


Introduction The adolescent population comprises a significant proportion of attendances to the ED. Despite adolescent patients reporting lower levels of healthcare satisfaction compared with other age groups, their opinions are under-represented in existing literature. This prospective study investigated adolescents’ expectations and preferences regarding the ED service.

Methods A questionnaire designed by the investigators was distributed to children aged 12–16 years over a 6-month period in 2015 at two EDs in the UK. The questionnaire explored themes such as same-sex and similar-age areas, staff communication and environment. Interviews based on the questionnaire template were also conducted and guardians were permitted to accompany the participant. Verbal informed consent was obtained from both the young person and their guardian to participate in the study.

Results There were 254 respondents, which represented 8.8% of adolescent attendances in the study period. ‘Cleanliness’ was rated the most important factor within the ED setting with 94.8% of respondents selecting 4 or 5 on a 5-point Likert scale. This was followed by ‘feeling comfortable’, ‘clear explanation’ and ‘staff communication’ (91.2%, 90.8% and 90.4% rating these 4 or 5, respectively). However, when participants were asked to select a single most important factor, being ‘seen quickly’ was selected most frequently (95/206, 46.1%). ‘Entertainment’ was regarded the least important with only 17.0% selecting 4 or 5 on the Likert scale. Preference for being treated in an adult ED compared with a child ED increased with age.

Conclusions Being ‘seen quickly’ was considered the single most important factor by adolescent patients in the ED. Notably, ‘cleanliness’ and aspects of communication also rated highly, with ‘entertainment’ regarded as least important. The additional insight into the healthcare preferences of the adolescent population provides a platform on which the future ED services can be tailored to the needs of young people.

  • emergency department
  • communications
  • quality
  • paediatrics, paediatric emergency medicine

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors AB, JCB, LH, NP, RP and JB collectively planned the study, developed the questionnaire, collected data and prepared the manuscript. JB provided guidance and direction for the study. AB edited the final manuscript and is guarantor.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval Student Selected Component 4 programme of the University of Edinburgh College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement All available anonymised data can be obtained by contacting the corresponding author.