Influence of social characteristics on use of paediatric emergency care in Sweden - A questionnaire based study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Parental social characteristics influence the use of emergency departments (ED) in the USA, but less is known about paediatric ED care-seeking in countries with national health insurance. This prospective study was designed to evaluate associations between parental care-seeking and social characteristics, with emphasis on impact of non-native origin, at a paediatric ED in Sweden, a European country providing paediatric healthcare free of charge. Methods: Parents attending a paediatric ED at a large urban university hospital filled out a questionnaire on social characteristics and reasons for care-seeking. Information on patient characteristics and initial management was obtained from ED registers and patient records. Paediatric ED physicians assessed the medical appropriateness of each patient visit triaged for ED care. Results: In total, 962 patient visits were included. Telephone healthline service before the paediatric ED visit was less often used by non-native parents (63/345 vs. 249/544, p < 0.001). Low-aquity visits, triaged away from the ED, were more common among non-native parents (80/368 vs. 67/555, OR = 1.66; p = 0.018), and among those reporting lower abilities in the Swedish language (23/82 vs. 120/837, OR = 2.66; p = 0.003). Children of non-native parents were more often assessed by physicians not to require ED care (122/335 vs. 261/512, OR = 0.70; p = 0.028). Conclusions: This study confirms more direct and less urgent use of paediatric ED care by parents of non-native origin or with limited abilities in the Swedish language, proposing that parental social characteristics influence paediatric ED care-seeking, also in a country with healthcare free of charge, and that specific needs of these groups should be better met by prehospital medical services.


External organisations
  • Skåne University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Anesthesiology and Intensive Care
  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • Children, Emergency department, Socio-economic status, Triage, Urgency
Original languageEnglish
Article number59
JournalBMC Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec 27
Publication categoryResearch