Indirect impact of violent events on emergency department utilization and disease patterns

Published on 2020-02-14T08:10:57Z (GMT) by
Abstract Background The health effects of war and armed conflict on casualties and mental health of those directly exposed has been well described, but few studies have explored the indirect health effects of violent events. This paper assesses the indirect health impact of several violent events that took place in Beirut in 2013–2014 on ED visit utilization and disease patterns. Methods As tracked by media reports, there were 9 violent events in Beirut during 2013–2014. We compared visits to the Emergency Department of a major medical center during weeks when violent events happened and weeks without such events (the preceding week and the same week in preceding years). After re-coding de-identified data from the medical records of 23,067 patients, we assessed differences in the volume of visits, severity index, and discharge diagnoses. Individual control charts were used to analyze ED visit trends post-event. Results Comparisons of weeks with violent events and weeks without such events indicate that the socio-demographic characteristics of patients who visited the Emergency Department were similar. Patients seen during violent weeks were significantly more likely to be admitted to the hospital, and less likely to present with low acuity complaints, indicating greater complexity of their conditions. The discharge diagnoses that were significantly higher during violent event weeks included anxiety disorders, sprains, and gastritis. Daily ED visits dropped post events by 14.111%, p < 0.0001. Conclusions The results indicate that violent events such as bombs, explosions, and terrorist attacks reverberate through the population, impact patterns of ED utilization immediately post-event and are associated with adverse health outcomes, even among those who are not directly affected by the events.

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Makhlouf-Obermeyer, Carla; Sharara, Eman; El-Eid, Ghada; Hitti, Eveline (2020): Indirect impact of violent events on emergency department utilization and disease patterns. figshare. Collection.