Individuals who seek care for coughs and colds in emergency departments have social support

Research Activities, January 2010, No. 353

Individuals who seek care in emergency departments (EDs) for nagging coughs and colds have strong support from family and friends, a new study finds. Researchers surveyed 704 English- and Spanish-speaking patients seen in 15 EDs for coughs lasting less than 3 weeks. They found that participants scored an average of 5.54 on the 7-point Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, which measures support from relationships with family, friends, and special persons. Participants in this study with the highest scores for social support tended to be women, have children younger than 5 years old, have higher income levels, and rate their health status as good to excellent.

Because individuals with robust social support seem more likely to take care of their health, the authors expected to find that patients who sought care for coughs and colds in EDs would have low scores for social support. They suggest that factors such as symptom severity or lack of access to primary care physicians may be more at play with these ED patients than support from family and friends.

Future research in this area could explore whether individuals who forego care for coughs and colds have low social support, or it could compare the social support of individuals who are seen in the ED versus the doctor's office or a drop-in cold clinic, the authors suggest. This study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13915).

See "Perceived social support among adults seeking care for acute respiratory tract infections in U.S. EDs," by Sara K. Levin, B.A., Joshua P. Metlay, M.D., Ph.D., Judith H. Maselli, M.S.P.H., and others in the June 2009 issue of The American Journal of Emergency Medicine 27(5), pp. 582-587.

Current as of January 2010
Internet Citation: Individuals who seek care for coughs and colds in emergency departments have social support: Research Activities, January 2010, No. 353. January 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/jan10/0110RA25.html