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Identifying opportunities for health promotion and intervention in the ED


Background ED staff assess patients with modifiable risk factors for acute and chronic illness. Health promotion interventions delivered in the ED have been advocated for these patients. The engagement of staff is essential to provide effective screening and brief interventions for patients. This survey aimed to assess if staff support the ED as an environment for health promotion.

Methods A multicentre, structured survey was conducted in four EDs in Scotland from 2017 to 2018. Physician and nursing staff at two teaching and two district general hospitals (n=423) were study eligible and offered a multicomponent survey. Outcomes measured included perceived barriers to practice and risk factor specific ED interventions.

Results Of the 283 respondents, 116 (41%) were physicians and 167 (59%) were nurses. More physicians (86.1%) than nurses (49.7%) reported offering health promotion interventions. Time constraints and a lack of health promotion infrastructure in the ED were cited as challenges to intervention delivery. Staff believed that alcohol (n=170/283, 60.1%) and drug misuse (n=173/283, 61.1%) were more appropriately managed in the ED than primary care. ED staff believed same day brief interventions were more appropriate when alcohol/drug misuse and smoking were directly related to ED presentations.

Discussion and conclusions Staff support the concept of the ED as a potential environment for offering health promotion interventions. ED physicians and nurses have different perspectives on the delivery of health promotion. The role of the ED in health promotion is likely to be multimodal and dependant on the reason for ED attendance.

  • emergency department
  • emergency care systems
  • admission avoidance
  • emergency care systems
  • emergency departments
  • emergency department management

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. The data consist of deidentified participant data. Data availability and reuse is available on reasonable request from the corresponding author (

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