The influence of a major sporting event upon emergency department attendances; A retrospective cross-national European study
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Major sporting events may influence attendance levels at hospital emergency departments (ED). Previous research has focussed on the impact of single games, or wins/losses for specific teams/countries, limiting wider generalisations. Here we explore the impact of the Euro 2016 football championships on ED attendances across four participating nations (England, France, Northern Ireland, Wales), using a single methodology. Match days were found to have no significant impact upon daily ED attendances levels. Focussing upon hourly attendances, ED attendances across all countries in the four hour pre-match period were statistically significantly lower than would be expected (OR 0.97, 95% CI 0.94–0.99) and further reduced during matches (OR 0.94, 95% CI 0.91–0.97). In the 4 hour post-match period there was no significant increase in attendances (OR 1.01, 95% CI 0.99–1.04). However, these impacts were highly variable between individual matches: for example in the 4 hour period following the final, involving France, the number of ED attendances in France increased significantly (OR 1.27, 95% CI 1.13–1.42). Overall our results indicate relatively small impacts of major sporting events upon ED attendances. The heterogeneity observed makes it difficult for health providers to predict how major sporting events may affect ED attendances but supports the future development of compatible systems in different countries to support cross-border public health surveillance.