Background: Data on epidemiology, costs, and outcomes of burn-related injuries presenting at emergency departments (EDs) are scarce. To obtain such information, a questionnaire study with an adequate response rate is imperative. There is evidence that optimized strategies can increase patient participation. However, it is unclear whether this applies to burn patients in an ED setting. The objective of this feasibility study was to optimize and evaluate patient recruitment strategy and follow-up methods in patients with burn injuries presenting at EDs.
Methods: In a prospective cohort study with a 6-month follow-up, patients with burn-related injuries attending two large EDs during a 3-month study period were included. Eligible patients were quasi-randomly allocated to a standard or optimized recruitment strategy by week of the ED visit. The standard recruitment strategy consisted of an invitation letter to participate, an informed consent form, a questionnaire, and a franked return envelope. The optimized recruitment strategy was complemented by a stamped returned envelope, monetary incentive, sending a second copy of the questionnaire, and a reminder by telephone in non-responders. Response rates were calculated, and questionnaires were used to assess treatment, costs, and health-related quality of life.
Results: A total of 87 patients were included of which 85 were eligible for the follow-up study. There was a higher response rate at 2 months in the optimized versus the standard recruitment strategy (43.6% vs. 20.0%; OR = 3.1 (95% CI 1.1-8.8)), although overall response is low. Non-response analyses showed no significant differences in patient, burn injury or treatment characteristics between responders versus non-responders.
Conclusions: This study demonstrated that response rates can be increased with an optimized, but more labor-intensive recruitment strategy, although further optimization of recruitment and follow-up is needed. It is feasible to assess epidemiology, treatment, and costs after burn-related ED contacts.
- Emergency department
- Recruitment strategy
- Response rate
- Health care survey methods