How is test-related information communicated in Australian Emergency Departments? ED clinicians’ and patients’ perspectives

Maria R. Dahm*, Julie Li, Judith Thomas, Peter Smith , Andrew Georgiou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To investigate the communication processes involving test-related information in Australian Emergency Departments (EDs); specifically what and how ED clinicians communicate test-related information to patients, what patients know and understand about the provided information, and how patients view the potential to access their test-results electronically.

Methods: We conducted face-to-face semi-structured interviews with clinicians (n = 26) and patients (n = 32) across three Australian EDs. Interviews were transcribed and analysed iteratively, following principles of qualitative content analysis and grounded theory.

Results: Depending on various contextual (e.g. time pressures) and patient factors (e.g. perceived health literacy), ED clinicians provided, and patients recalled receiving, test-related information along a continuum, ranging from “no or limited” information to “specific” information. Many patients were confused about how to access their test-results. Patients welcomed the potential for future electronic access to results but viewed their individual health and/or computer literacy skills and knowledge as potential barriers.

Conclusions: EDs are highly dynamic environments where contextual forces impinge on the amount and quality of test-related information that clinicians communicate to ED patients.

Practice Implications: Systemic and patient factors need to be addressed to optimise the provision of test-related information in ED settings, improve patient understanding and foster patient empowerment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1970-1977
Number of pages8
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Communication
  • Diagnostic testing
  • Emergency department
  • Patient empowerment
  • Health services research
  • Qualitative research


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