The Revolving Door: High ER Use Among Older Veterans

Claver M, Levy-Storms L.Qualitative Health Research. 2010; 20(3): 365-374.

Why do some older veterans visit the emergency room (ER) frequently? This study expands an existing decisionmaking model that describes how ER users recognize symptoms of a health problem, decide to seek medical care for the health problem, and decide to visit the ER specifically for the medical care. The focus of this inquiry is the role of older veterans’ social support networks in decisions to visit the ER. Data were collected through in-depth, semistructured, in-person interviews with 30 community-dwelling, high-functioning veterans aged 65 years and older who had visited the ER frequently (3 or more times) in the previous year. We found that the older veteran study participants, regardless of the availability of social support, preferred to make decisions independently, relied heavily on formal social support network members, and received various types of assistance to visit the ER from informal social support networks.


Decision Making; Emergency Room; Older People; Social Support; Veterans Hospitals.

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