Finding Voices: a survey of young people’s experiences of the ED

Liza Keating (Lead Author), Sarah Wilson, Jack R. Dainty, Dominic Jones, Jonathan Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Mental health presentations in young people are increasing. Recurrence of self-harm (SH) presentations is common and of great concern since self-harm is known to be a risk factor for suicide. Previous reports suggest that the ED experience for this group is poor. A study was carried out at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust. The objective was to pilot new and existing measures to capture the perceived needs and expectations of young people attending ED following SH compared with those attending with suspected fractures (SFs). Methods Young people were approached to complete a questionnaire as they arrived in ED and again before they left. Questionnaires were a combination of pre-existing tools as well as piloting novel questions specific to the ED where no suitable tool previously existed. Satisfaction with the ED treatment was measured along with reattendance up to one year later. Results The survey was started in 2019 and suspended in March 2020 at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequently closed, having screened 917 and recruited 104 adolescents. All the measures showed satisfactory psychometric properties with internal consistencies (alpha) of over 0.75. The two patient groups differed at baseline: it was found that the SH group had lower mood on the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (p<0.001) and scored more highly on the Borderline Personality Features Scale for Children than the SF group (p<0.001) but the expectations of care across both groups was similar. Using the experience measures, the SH group was less satisfied with treatment than the SF group (p=0.0263). Conclusion Our findings underline the similarities between the two groups in terms of their expectations of care. Terminating the study early at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic has precluded any further firm conclusions to be drawn. Further research is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)708-714
Number of pages7
JournalEmergency Medicine Journal
Issue number10
Early online date16 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


  • emergency department
  • paediatric emergency medicine
  • self-harm

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