Revisiting Predictors of Parental Health Care-Seeking Behaviors for Nonurgent Conditions at One Inner-City Hospital

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To determine important predictors of why parents seek care for their children at a pediatric emergency department (ED) compared to their child's primary care provider's (PCP's) walk-in clinic.


Cross-sectional study.


An inner-city hospital located in New York City, from April 2003 to January 2004.


A convenience sample of 170 parents with children younger than 18 years, Medicaid beneficiaries, had a PCP, and presented with a nonurgent medical problem either at the pediatric ED or walk-in clinic.

Main Outcome Measure:

The main outcome measure was the setting in which parents sought care for their child; odds ratios (ORs) were calculated for parents seeking care in the pediatric ED compared to those seeking care at the walk-in clinic, adjusting for predisposing, enabling, and need-related factors.


Of the 170 parent-child visits, 87 (51%) were seeking care at the ED and 83 (49%) at their child's walk-in clinic. In logistic regression, single parenting was the strongest predictor for seeking care in the ED (OR, 5.54; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.4-26.9), followed by Hispanic ethnicity (OR, 4.96; 95% CI, 1.43-17.2), low parental perceptions of their child's physical health (OR, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.82-0.99), controlling for number of chronic conditions, parental working status, and satisfaction with their PCP.


Single parenting, Hispanic ethnicity, and perceptions of health are associated with health care-seeking behaviors in high cost settings among Medicaid beneficiaries. Targeted education programs could be used to influence future site of care.

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