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Abstract

Objectives: Pain related to the gurney is a frequent complaint of older emergency department (ED) patients. The authors hypothesized that these patients may have less pain and higher satisfaction if allowed to sit in a reclining hospital chair. Methods: A single-blind, randomized controlled trial was performed. Patients 65 years old or older who were able to sit upright, transfer, and engage in normal conversation were eligible. Severely ill or cognitively impaired patients were excluded. Patients were randomized to either remain on the gurney or transfer to the chair after initial evaluation. Patients reported pain at arrival (t0), at one hour (t1), and at two hours (t2) using a 0–10 pain scale, and satisfaction at study completion on a 0–10 scale. The primary outcome was a decrease in pain between t0 and t1 or no pain at both t0 and t1. This outcome was analyzed using a 95% confidence interval for the difference between proportions; exclusion of zero was considered significant. Results: Sixty-six patients in each group were enrolled. There was no difference in demographics between groups, but the chair patients were more likely to have pain at t0 than the gurney patients. More chair patients than gurney patients had a successful primary outcome (97% vs. 76%, 21% difference, 95% CI=10% to 32%). The mean satisfaction score was higher in the chair group than in the gurney group (8.1 vs. 6.0, 2.1 difference, 95% CI=1.4% to 2.8%). Conclusions: The simple modification of allowing older ED patients to sit in reclining chairs resulted in less pain and higher satisfaction.