Pagers in a busy paediatric emergency waiting room: A randomized controlled trial
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OBJECTIVE: To test whether the distribution of pagers to waiting families in a paediatric emergency department (ED) increases satisfaction with the visit. METHODS: Using a controlled, randomized, single blind design, English-speaking families who had waited longer than 1 h were enrolled in the study. On any one day, every enrolled family was assigned to a no treatment group, an active control group in which children received a colouring set or an experimental group in which families were given pagers. A telephone questionnaire was used to measure the degree of satisfaction. Additional questions ascertained satisfaction with the pager and gathered other information. RESULTS: There were 23 families in the no treatment group, 18 in the active control group, and 20 in the experimental group. Demographic data were similar among the groups. Although satisfaction was higher in the experimental group, the differences between groups were not significant. The sex of the child or accompanying adult, waiting times, or classification as trauma or nontrauma did not influence the results. Families said pagers were useful (mean score 1.45 [1 = strongly agree]) and thought that the ED should use them (mean score 1.3). More families in the pager group left the waiting room while waiting to be seen (16 of 20 versus 19 of 40, P=0.016). The average score for finding the intervention helpful was 1.5 in the pager group and 3.06 in the colouring book group (P=0.0002). CONCLUSIONS: Use of a pager in the ED was viewed favourably by parents. However, overall satisfaction may be influenced more strongly by factors other than how the waiting time is spent.
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