Emergency department patients and visitors are most interested in education about stress and depression
Research Activities, May 2011, No. 369
Researchers and policymakers have increasingly viewed emergency departments (EDs) as high-yield venues for providing preventive health education to a population at risk for unhealthy behaviors and unmet primary care needs. To determine the preferred health education topics and teaching modalities among ED patients and visitors, a team of researchers surveyed ED patients and visitors in four Boston EDs. They found that respondents were most interested (32 percent) in hearing about stress and depression among health conditions and about exercise and nutrition (42 percent) among health topics. ED patients and visitors had relatively little interest in injury prevention, sexual health, and substance abuse, which account for a high proportion of directly preventable ED visits.
The preferred learning modalities were brochures/books (34 percent), video (25 percent), speaking with an expert (24 percent), and computer (14 percent). Despite the many advances in health education, traditional brochures and books were the preferred method, both overall and for 20 of the 28 health conditions and topics included in the survey. Among Hispanic participants and those with less than high school education, speaking with an expert was the preferred modality. Elder respondents also preferred speaking with an expert on the subjects of strokes and falls. This may reflect the complexity of these issues for older patients. The 1,010 survey respondents were ED patients (56 percent) or visitors (44 percent).
Since 98 percent of ED patients and visitors in this study were interested in receiving some health education, ED waiting rooms may prove an excellent venue to deliver health information to a captive and interested audience. Given the high acceptance and low cost of printed materials, the researchers suggest that brochures may be a feasible way to implement health education more broadly in the ED. This study was supported by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (T32 HS00028).
See "Multicenter study of preferences for health education in the emergency department population," by M. Kit Delgado, M.D., Adit A. Ginde, M.D., M.P.H., Daniel J. Pallin, M.D., M.P.H., and Carlos A. Camargo, M.D., Dr.P.H. in Academic Emergency Medicine 17, pp. 652-658, 2010.