Subjective reasons why immigrant patients attend the emergency department

Mahmoud, Ibrahim, Eley, Rob and Hou, Xiang-Yu (2015) Subjective reasons why immigrant patients attend the emergency department. BMC Emergency Medicine, 15 4: 1-6. doi:10.1186/s12873-015-0031-8

Author Mahmoud, Ibrahim
Eley, Rob
Hou, Xiang-Yu
Title Subjective reasons why immigrant patients attend the emergency department
Journal name BMC Emergency Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1471-227X
Publication date 2015-03-28
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1186/s12873-015-0031-8
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 15
Issue 4
Start page 1
End page 6
Total pages 6
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed Central
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract

Some patients visit a hospital’s emergency department (ED) for reasons other than an urgent medical condition. There is evidence that this practice may differ among patients from different backgrounds. The objective of this study was to examine the reasons why patients from a non-English speaking background (NESB) and patients with an English speaking background but not born in Australia (ESB-NBA) visit the ED, as compared to patients from English-speaking backgrounds but born in Australia (ESB-BA).


A cross-sectional survey was conducted at the ED of a tertiary hospital in metropolitan Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Over a four-month period patients who were assigned an Australasian Triage Scale score of 3, 4 or 5 were surveyed. Pearson chi-square test and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to examine the differences between the ESB and NESB patients’ reported reasons for attending the ED.


A total of 828 patients participated in this study. Compared to ESB-BA patients NESB patients were less likely to consider contacting a general practitioner (GP) before attending the ED (Odds Ratios (OR) 0.6 (95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.4–0.8, p < .05) While ESB-NBA were more likely to consider contacting a GP 1.7 (1.1–2.5, p < .05). Both the NESB patients and the ESB-NBA patients were far more likely than ESB-BA patients to report that they had visited the ED either because they do not have a GP (OR 7.9, 95% CI 4.7–13.4, p < .001) and 2.2 (95% CI 1.1–4.4, p < .05) respectively and less likely to think that the ED could deal with their problem better than a GP (OR 0.5 (95% CI 0.3–0.8, p < .05) and 0.7 (0.3–0.9, p < .05) respectively. The NESB patients also thought it would take too long to make an appointment to consult a GP (OR 6.2, 95% CI 3.7–10.4, p < 0.001).


NESB patients were the least likely to consider contacting a GP before attending hospital EDs. Educational interventions may help direct NESB people to the appropriate health services and therefore reduce the burden on tertiary hospitals ED.
Keyword Emergency department
General practitioner
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
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