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Minor illness and injury: factors influencing attendance at a paediatric accident and emergency department
  1. S J Hendry1,
  2. T F Beattie1,
  3. D Heaney2
  1. 1Accident and Emergency Department, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2Centre for Rural Health, University of Aberdeen, Inverness, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr S J Hendry
    Emergency Department, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, Upper Maudlin Street, Bristol BS2 8BJ, UK;


Aims: To gather information on children with minor illness or injury presenting to a paediatric accident and emergency (A&E) department and the decision making process leading to their attendance.

Methods: Prospective questionnaire based survey of 465 children selected by systematic sampling from A&E attenders allocated to the lowest triage category.

Results: The study population was statistically representative of the total population of A&E attenders. The lower deprivation categories were over represented. Educational attainment, childcare experience, and parental coping skills were important in relation to A&E attendance. More children attended with injury as opposed to illness. There were no significant demographic differences between those children who presented directly to A&E and those who made prior contact with a GP. Just under half the study population had made contact with a general practitioner (GP) before attending A&E. The majority of those children were directly referred to A&E at that point. GPs referred equivalent numbers of children with illness and injury.

Conclusions: Parents and GPs view paediatric A&E departments as an appropriate place to seek treatment for children with minor illness or injury.

  • A&E, accident and emergency
  • GP, general practitioner
  • accident and emergency
  • inappropriate attendance

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  • Funding: the study was supported by a grant from the Myre Sim Fund of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

  • Competing interests: none declared

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