Preprint / Version 1

Non‑urgent use of the emergency department: a qualitative semi‐structured interview study, Vitória-ES, 2019.




Urgency, Primary Health Care, Access to Health Services, Health Planning, Health services


Introduction: The healthcare system is structured to prioritize Primary Health Care (PHC) as the main gateway for accessing care while reserving emergency services for situations requiring immediate attention. However, people's choices often deviate from what one would expect based on their health needs, leading to overburdened emergency services and reduced clinical care effectiveness and efficiency. Objective: This study aims to identify the motivations behind non-urgent health issues leading users to seek care at an emergency department. Method: A qualitative study involving semi-structured interviews was conducted in 2019 with users of an emergency department in Vitória-ES. The collected data underwent thematic analysis. Results: The study included 29 participants, predominantly women, of Black or mixed race, and under 30 years old, who reported issues related to pain or respiratory problems. Notably, participants perceived emergency services as places where they could readily obtain immediate and effective care. Accessing PHC was seen as challenging, and they anticipated that their needs (appointments, tests, medications) would not be promptly met within PHC. Conclusion: Utilizing emergency services for non-urgent concerns is a multifaceted and complex public health problem that extends beyond PHC access difficulties to encompass individual and collective understanding of PHC's role and emergency care. Merely expanding PHC is insufficient; reframing this level care is essential, particularly among younger individuals.


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How to Cite

Rodrigues, M. M., Sarti, T. D., Almeida, A. P. S. C., Fontenelle, L. F., & Lazarini, W. S. (2023). Non‑urgent use of the emergency department: a qualitative semi‐structured interview study, Vitória-ES, 2019. In SciELO Preprints.


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Data statement

  • They cannot be made publicly available

    • These are qualitative data that can be used to identify research subjects.