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For some, football is more a religion than a sport. This can impact on families in multiple ways. One such quasi-religious event was the UEFA Cup Final between Glasgow Celtic and Porto (21 May 2003). An estimated 85 000 Celtic supporters converged on Seville for the UEFA Cup Final.
While doing two paediatric clinics on the day of the Cup Final I noted that the “did not attend” (DNA) rate at these clinics was well above normal, being 58.4% and 58%.
My hypothesis was that this quasi-religious event was being put before children’s health, shown by their failure to attend paediatric clinics. I decided to look at the DNA rates at Glasgow’s tertiary paediatric hospital, Yorkhill Hospital and the paediatric department of a large District General Hospital Trust, Ayrshire and Arran NHS Trust. The DNA rates at identical clinics the week before and after the Cup Final were analysed to allow appropriate comparison. The mean DNA rate was 14.58% on the day of the UEFA Cup Final, 17.38% on 14 May and 19.06% on 28 May. This in fact shows a trend towards attendance on the day of the UEFA Cup Final but this did not reach significance (p = 0.3). Reassuringly this refutes the hypothesis that Glaswegians will put football before their child’s health.
The breakdown of the subspecialty DNA rates had some interesting results. The haematology clinics, for example, had the lowest DNA rates, with an average of 5.9% (5/54 and 1/42 on 14 and 28 May respectively) not attending on the dates before and after the Cup Final. The DNA rate on the day of the Cup Final was 2/39 (5.1%). Other specialties including general medical paediatric, nephrology, and respiratory clinics showed a very different picture (table 1). When comparing the average DNA rate at these clinics with that on 21 May, there was a significant increase in failure to attend (p = 0.019%).
From this we can say that despite the huge exodus of football followers in the West of Scotland that occurred on the day of the UEFA Cup Final, the attendance rate at paediatric clinics in the West of Scotland was better on the day of the Cup than normal. This is very reassuring in this football frenzied area. However, it may be said that certain paediatric illnesses were treated with less importance.
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