Objectives To inform demand magement strategies aimed at reducing congestion in EDs by: (i) identifying public use of EDs, decision-making and reasons; and (ii) measuring acceptance of altertive care models. Methods A cross-sectiol telephone survey of a random sample of Queensland population aged 18 years or older residing in a dwelling unit in Queensland that could be contacted on a land-based telephone service was conducted. One person per household was selected according to a predetermined algorithm to ensure sex and regiol balance were interviewed. The main outcome measures were: ED use, attitudes towards ED staff and services, and altertive models of care. Results The fil sample included a total of 1256 respondents (response rate = 40.3%). Twenty-one per cent attended EDs in the preceding 12 months. The decision to attend was made by patients (51%), health and medical professiols (31%), and others (18%). The main reasons included perceived severity of the illness (47%), uvailability of altertive services (26%) and better care (11%). Most respondents agreed with more flexible care models of service delivery including incentives for general practitioners (90%), private health insurance coverage for ED use (89%), and enhanced roles for paramedics and nurses. Conclusions Main reason for attending ED is perceived severity of illness, followed by lack of altertive care. The majority of both consumers and the public are in favour of more flexible care models. However, further research is necessary to detail those altertives and to test and validate their effectiveness.
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