To test whether follow-up phone calls to counsel families about pediatric emergency department (PED) use and primary care availability made after an index PED visit would modify subsequent PED use.
Longitudinal prospective randomized intervention.
An urban academic children's hospital.
A total of 4246 individuals aged 0 to 21 years from each of 4 participating primary care practices recording an index PED visit from April through December 2005.
Follow-up phone call from the primary care practice within 72 hours of the initial PED visit to counsel about the availability of after-hours advice and when to access the PED.
Main Outcome Measures
All subsequent visits to primary care practices, PED, pediatric subspecialists, or for inpatient hospitalization during a 365-day follow-up period. Logistic and ordinary least squares regressions estimated unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios of follow-up visits, controlling for covariates.
Of the 2166 intervention subjects, 816 (37.7%) recorded follow-up PED visits compared with 819 (39.4%) of the 2080 control subjects (P = .26, not significant). The adjusted odds of a follow-up visit being to the PED rather than to another venue was significantly less for intervention than for control subjects (odds ratio, 0.88; confidence interval, 0.82-0.94), indicating decreased intensity of PED use.
Follow-up phone calls from primary care practices after PED visits counseling patients on the use of primary care and emergency services can modulate subsequent care-seeking behavior and decrease future PED use.