Objective: To evaluate the impact of a government triple zero community awareness campaign on the characteristics of patients attending an ED.
Methods: A study using Emergency Department Information System data was conducted in an adult metropolitan tertiary-referral teaching hospital in Brisbane. The three outcomes measured in the 3 month post-campaign period were arrival mode, Australasian Triage Scale and departure status. These measures reflect ambulance usage, clinical urgency and illness severity, respectively. They were compared with those in the 3 month pre-campaign period. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to investigate the impacts of the campaign on each of the three outcome measures after controlling for age, sex, day and time of arrival, and daily minimum temperature.
Results: There were 17 920 visits in the pre- and 17 793 visits in the post-campaign period. After the campaign, fewer patients arrived at the ED by road ambulance (odds ratio [OR] 0.90, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.80–1.00), although the impact of the campaign on the arrival mode was only close to statistical significance (Wald χ2-test, P= 0.055); and patients were significantly less likely to have higher clinical urgency (OR 0.86, 95% CI 0.79–0.94), while more likely to be admitted (OR 1.68, 95% CI 1.38–2.05) or complete treatment in the ED (OR 1.46, 95% CI 1.23–1.73) instead of leaving without waiting to be seen.
Conclusions: The campaign had no significant impact on the arrival mode of the patients. After the campaign, the illness acuity of the patients decreased, whereas the illness severity of the patients increased.