Leaving without being seen from a pediatric emergency department: Identifying caregivers' perspectives using q-methodology

Risha L. Moskalewicz, Phung K. Pham, Danica B. Liberman, Jeanine E. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: National rates of left (or leaving) without being seen (LWBS) in pediatric emergency departments (PED) are higher than general emergency departments. We investigated coexisting perspectives on LWBS. Methods: Q-methodology was implemented through a mixed-methods design. Semistructured interviews elicited a concourse of caregivers' thoughts on waiting in the PED and their consideration of LWBS. Themes from the concourse were identified and framed as statements. Caregivers sorted these statements, which ranged from choosing to stay versus leave the PEDbefore their child is seen by a physician. Sorted datawere analyzed through centroid factor analysis. Results: Seventy-seven caregivers contributed interviewdata, fromwhich 31 themes were identified and framed as statements. Thirty-one different caregivers contributed Q-sort data, from which 2 factors were revealed, each representing a unique perspective on LWBS. Most caregivers (26 of 31) shared the following perspective: "I would leave the PED before my child is seen by a doctor if there are no reassessments for my child while we are in the queue, no updates on our queue position, or no explanations for wait time." The remaining caregivers (5 of 31) perceived feelings of uncertainty and helplessness, lack of updates, and competing obligations as primary influences on LWBS. Conclusions: Elements that factor into caregivers' decision to LWBS from a PED include lack of reassessments, lack of updates on queue position, and lack of information about the triage process. Quality improvement interventions for decreasing LWBS rates should account for diverse coexisting perspectives such as these.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-620
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Emergency Care
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.


  • Emergency department wait time
  • Left without being seen
  • Q-methodology

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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