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ER vs. ED: A comparison of televised and real-life emergency medicine

Primack, BA and Roberts, T and Fine, MJ and Dillman Carpentier, FR and Rice, KR and Barnato, AE (2012) ER vs. ED: A comparison of televised and real-life emergency medicine. Journal of Emergency Medicine, 43 (6). 1160 - 1166. ISSN 0736-4679

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Background: Although accurate health-related representations of medical situations on television can be valuable, inaccurate portrayals can engender misinformation. Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare sociodemographic and medical characteristics of patients depicted on television vs. actual United States (US) Emergency Department (ED) patients. Methods: Two independently working coders analyzed all 22 programs in one complete year of the popular "emergency room" drama ER. Inter-rater reliability was excellent, and all initial coding differences were easily adjudicated. Actual health data were obtained from the National Heath and Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from the same year. Chi-squared goodness-of-fit tests were used to compare televised vs. real distribution across key sociodemographic and medical variables. Results: Ages at the extremes of age (i.e., ≤ 4 and ≥ 45 years) were less commonly represented on television compared with reality. Characters on television vs. reality were less commonly women (31.2% vs. 52.9%, respectively), African-American (12.7% vs. 20.3%), or Hispanic (7.1% vs. 12.5%). The two most common acuity categories for television were the extreme categories "non-urgent" and "emergent," whereas the two most common categories for reality were the middle categories "semi- urgent" and "urgent." Televised visits compared with reality were most commonly due to injury (63.5% vs. 37.0%, respectively), and televised injuries were less commonly work-related (4.2% vs. 14.8%, respectively). Conclusions: Comparison of represented and actual characteristics of ED patients may be valuable in helping us determine what types of patient misperceptions may exist, as well as what types of interventions may be beneficial in correcting that potential misinformation. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Primack, BAbprimack@pitt.eduBPRIMACK
Roberts, T
Fine, MJmjf1@pitt.eduMJF10000-0003-3470-9846
Dillman Carpentier, FR
Rice, KR
Barnato, AEprepare@pitt.eduPREPARE
Centers: Other Centers, Institutes, Offices, or Units > Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health
Date: 1 December 2012
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Emergency Medicine
Volume: 43
Number: 6
Page Range: 1160 - 1166
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2011.11.002
Schools and Programs: School of Medicine > Medicine
School of Medicine > Pediatrics
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0736-4679
MeSH Headings: Adolescent; Adult; Aged; Child; Child, Preschool; Emergency Service, Hospital; Female; Humans; Infant; Male; Middle Aged; Patients--classification; Socioeconomic Factors; Television; United States; Young Adult
Other ID: NLM NIHMS439046, NLM PMC3573875
PubMed Central ID: PMC3573875
PubMed ID: 22766407
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2014 21:41
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2021 10:55


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