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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Self-rated worry in acute care telephone triage: a mixed-methods study

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BACKGROUND: Telephone triage is used to assess acute illness or injury. Clinical decision making is often assisted by triage tools that lack callers' perspectives. This study analysed callers' perception of urgency, defined as degree of worry in acute care telephone calls.

AIM: To explore the caller's ability to quantify their degree of worry, the association between degree of worry and variables related to the caller, the effect of degree of worry on triage outcome, and the thematic content of the caller's worry.

DESIGN AND SETTING: A mixed-methods study with simultaneous convergent design combining descriptive statistics and thematic analysis of 180 calls to a Danish out-of-hours service.

METHOD: The following quantitative data were measured: age of caller, sex, reason for encounter, symptom duration, triage outcome, and degree of worry (rated from 1 = minimally worried to 5 = extremely worried). Qualitative data consisted of audio-recorded telephone calls.

RESULTS: Most callers (170 out of 180) were able to scale their worry when contacting the out-of-hours service (median = 3, interquartile range = 2-4, mean = 2.76). Degree of worry was associated with female sex (odds ratio [OR] 1.98, 95% CI = 1.13 to 3.45) and symptom duration (>24 hours: OR 2.01, 95% CI = 1.13 to 3.45) (reference <5 hours), but not with age or reason for encounter. A high degree of worry significantly increased the chance of being triaged to a face-to-face consultation. The thematic content of worry varied from emotions of feeling bothered to feeling distressed. Callers provided more contextual information when asked about their degree of worry.

CONCLUSION: Callers were able to rate their degree of worry. The degree of worry scale is feasible for larger-scale studies if incorporating a patient-centred approach in out-of-hours telephone triage.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners
Volume68
Issue number668
Pages (from-to)e197-e203
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

    Research areas

  • Journal Article

ID: 53432163