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Emergency Medicine International
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 165738, 7 pages
Research Article

Expectations of Care, Perceived Safety, and Anxiety following Acute Behavioural Disturbance in the Emergency Department

1St. Vincent's Hospital Melbourne and The University of Melbourne, 41 Victoria Parade, Fitzroy, VIC 3065, Australia
2School of Nursing, Melbourne School of Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia
3St. Vincent's Hospital Melbourne, 41 Victoria Parade, Fitzroy, VIC 3065, Australia

Received 15 December 2010; Accepted 11 May 2011

Academic Editor: Robert W. Derlet

Copyright © 2011 Magdalen Lim et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective. We explored perspectives of emergency department users (patients and visitors) regarding the management of acute behavioural disturbances in the emergency department and whether these disturbances influenced their levels of anxiety. Methods. Emergency department patients and visitors were surveyed using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and a purpose-designed questionnaire and semistructured interview. The main outcome measures were themes that emerged from the questionnaires, the interviews, and scores from the state component of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Results. 70 participants were recruited. Users of the emergency department preferred behaviourally disturbed people be managed in a separate area from the general emergency department population so that the disturbance was inaudible ( 𝑛 = 3 2 ) and out of view ( 𝑛 = 4 0 ). The state anxiety levels of those that witnessed an acute behavioural disturbance were within the normal range and did not differ to that of ED patients that were not present during such a disturbance (median, control = 37, Code Grey = 33). Conclusions. Behavioural disturbances in the emergency department do not provoke anxiety in other users. However, there is a preference that such disturbances be managed out of visual and audible range. Innovative design features may be required to achieve this.