Emergency patients prefer technology-based interventions for behavioral issues

July 16, 2012

A Rhode Island Hospital researcher has found that emergency department patients prefer technology-based interventions for high-risk behaviors such as alcohol use, unsafe sex and violence. ER patients said they would choose technology (ie text messaging, email, or Internet) over traditional intervention methods such as in-person or brochure-based behavioral interventions. The paper by Megan L. Ranney, M.D., is available now online in advance of print in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

The study was a cross-sectional survey of urban emergency department patients ages 13 and older. Patients answered questions about what kinds of technology they already use, what concerns they have about technology-based interventions, and what format they would prefer to receive interventions on seven health topics: unintentional injury; ; dating/; mental health; tobacco use; alcohol/substance use; and .

"Many of our ER patients report behaviors that put them at high risk for poor health, like cigarette smoking, alcohol use and being a victim of violence," said Ranney, the lead researcher on the study. "Although emergency medicine physicians care about these problems, we face many barriers to helping patients change . Some of these barriers include lack of time in a busy, Level I, urban emergency department; lack of training in providing effective ; and a lack of knowledge of appropriate follow-up resources in an emergency setting."

The study findings indicate that technology-based interventions are an attractive potential solution to these barriers as most ER patients regularly use multiple forms of technology, including cell phones and the Internet. It also shows that the patients surveyed are receptive to technology-based interventions for these problems.

Computer or cell phone-based interventions for ER patients offer many advantages. Such interventions could provide consistent quality and content, would not require individual doctors and nurses to have expertise in the area and could be tailored to the needs and desires of each patient. Technology-based interventions also can be delivered post-discharge, providing patients with a more convenient, private and anonymous resource.

Ranney and colleagues found that patients preferred a technology-based intervention irrespective of age, sex, income, race and ethnicity. The technology-based interventions studied include Internet (website), text message, email, social networking site and DVD.

Patients self-administered the survey on an iPad or on paper. Only 36 of the 973 patients surveyed preferred the paper questionnaire. The mean age of the participants was 31 years, but the ages ranged from 13-91 years old. More than half (54.5 percent) were female, 64.1 percent were white, 23.2 percent were Hispanic, and 46.6 percent were low income. These statistics are similar to those of the ER population at Rhode Island Hospital. Baseline use of technology was high for most groups: computers (91.2 percent); Internet (70.7 percent); social networking (66.9 percent); mobile phones (95 percent); and text messaging (73.8 percent). Ninety percent of participants preferred technology-based interventions for at least one topic. Patients had some concerns about technology-based interventions, with the primary concern being confidentiality with Internet-based and social networking interventions.

"The data show that technology-based behavioral interventions will play an increasing role in the continuing care of emergency department patients," Ranney said. "But more research is needed, and while more than two-thirds of the patients in our emergency department use some form of technology regularly, the use of such technologies for clinical practice lags behind this trend."

Explore further: Medicaid patients go to ERs more often: study

Related Stories

Medicaid patients go to ERs more often: study

March 19, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Medicaid patients have more difficulty getting primary care and visit hospital emergency departments more often than those with private insurance, a new study finds.

Inadequate pain meds in ER for patients with long-bone fractures

May 21, 2012
(HealthDay) -- The majority of patients with long-bone fractures receive inadequate pain medication in the emergency department, and disparities in management exist, according to a study published in the May issue of the ...

Evidence for emergency obstetric referral interventions in developing countries is limited

July 10, 2012
In this week's PLoS Medicine, Julia Hussein from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and colleagues assess the evidence for the effectiveness of interventions that aim to help pregnant women reach health facilities during ...

Recommended for you

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

Study shows cigarette makers shifted stance on nicotine patches, gum

August 17, 2017
The use of nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers or nasal sprays—together called "nicotine replacement therapy," or NRT—came into play in 1984 as prescription medicine, which when combined with counseling, helped ...

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

Energy dense foods may increase cancer risk regardless of obesity status

August 17, 2017
Diet is believed to play a role in cancer risk. Current research shows that an estimated 30% of cancers could be prevented through nutritional modifications. While there is a proven link between obesity and certain types ...

Technology is changing Generation smartphone, and not always for the better

August 16, 2017
It's easy to imagine some graybeard long ago weighing in on how this new generation, with all its fancy wheels, missed out on the benefits of dragging stuff from place to place.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.