Understanding the decision-making practices used by registered nurses assessing acuity at triage in emergency departments in the UK: a national survey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Uncertainty exists surrounding the background and triage training of nurses in UK emergency departments, and how they assess patient’s acuity. This study aims to explore the demographics and decision-making processes of triage nurses in UK emergency departments.

Methods: The study utilised a mixed-methods online descriptive cross-sectional survey design.

Results: Wide variability was noted in demographics of the nurses performing triage. The triage decision-making inventory showed high scoring, although intuition scored lower than other factors. Training for triage was non-standardised with many participants only receiving beginner training. Satisfaction with amount of training was low.
Four themes were established from qualitative analysis: triaging the situation; stress, control and assimilation; maintaining safety through decisive actions; and prioritising the sickest.

Conclusions: This study presents important information about nurses performing triage in UK emergency departments, describing their background and training and exploring their acuity assessment methods. Recommendations for improving UK triage are given.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEmergency Nurse
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 26 Mar 2024

Cite this