Table of Contents
International Journal of Family Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 978412, 10 pages
Research Article

Why Do Parents Bring Their Children to the Emergency Department? A Systematic Inventory of Motives

1Pediatric Emergency Department, Hôpital des Enfants, 330 avenue de Grande-Bretagne, 31059 Toulouse Cedex 9, France
2Internal Medicine & Pediatrics, Albany Medical College, 724 Watervliet-Shaker Road, Latham, NY 12110, USA
3Department of Ethics of the Institute of Advanced Studies (EPHE), Maison de la Recherche, UTM, 5 allées Antonio-Machado, 31058 Toulouse Cedex 9, France

Received 2 June 2015; Revised 3 September 2015; Accepted 5 October 2015

Academic Editor: Jan De Maeseneer

Copyright © 2015 Anne Costet Wong 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.


Parents frequently bring their children to general or pediatric emergency departments (EDs), even though many of these visits are judged by others to be “nonurgent” and inappropriate. This study examined the motives behind parents’ decisions to take their children to a pediatric emergency department (PED). At a PED in Toulouse, France, 497 parents rated their level of agreement with each of 69 possible motives—representing all categories of human motivation—for coming to the PED that day. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses found evidence for six separable motives, called (in order of importance) (a) Seeking Quick Diagnosis, Treatment, and Reassurance; (b) PED as the Best Place to Go; (c) Empathic Concern for Child’s Suffering; (d) Being Considered by Others as Responsible Parents; (e) External Factors; and (f) Dissatisfaction with Previous Consultation. Conclusions. Parents’ motives in bringing their children to the PED are primarily serious and goal-oriented. They are also often emotion based, as would be expected in parents of ill children. The parents would be unlikely to agree that these visits were inappropriate.