Open Access Research article

Effects of immigrant status on Emergency Room (ER) utilisation by children under age one: a population-based study in the province of Reggio Emilia (Italy)

Paola Ballotari1*, Stefania D’Angelo1, Laura Bonvicini1, Serena Broccoli1, Nicola Caranci2, Silvia Candela1 and Paolo Giorgi Rossi1

Author Affiliations

1 Servizio Interaziendale di Epidemiologia, ASL di Reggio Emilia, Via Amendola 2, Reggio Emilia, Italy

2 Regional Agency for Health and Social Care Emilia-Romagna Region, Viale Aldo Moro 21, Bologna, Italy

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:458  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-458

Published: 1 November 2013

Abstract

Background

The primary aim of this study was to assess the effect of immigrant status on Emergency Room (ER) utilisation by children under age one, considering all, non-urgent, very urgent, and followed by hospitalisation visits. The second aim was to investigate the role played by mother’s educational level in the relationship between citizenship and ER utilisation.

Methods

The cohort study included all healthy singleton live births in the years 2008–2009 and residing in the province of Reggio Emilia, followed for the first year of life in order to study their ER visits. The outcomes were the ER utilisation rate for all, non-urgent, very urgent, and followed by hospitalisation visits. The main explanatory variable was mother’s citizenship. Other covariates were mother’s educational level, maternal age, parity, and child gender. Multivariate analyses (negative binomial regression and zero inflated when appropriate) were performed. Adjusted utilisation Rate Ratios (RR) and their 95% Confidence Intervals (95% CI) were calculated. Trend for age in months by citizenship is depicted.

Results

There were 3,191 children (36.4%) with at least one ER visit in the first year of life. Adjusted RR show a significantly greater risk of ER visit for immigrants than for Italians: (RR 1.51; 95% CI 1.39-1.63). Immigrants also had a higher risk of non-urgent visits (RR 1.72; 95% CI 1.48-2.00) and for visits followed by hospitalizations (RR 1.58; 95% CI 1.33-1.89). For very urgent visits, the immigrants had a slightly higher risk compared to Italians (RR 1.25; 95% CI 0.98-1.59).

The risk of ER visits is higher in the first two months of life (RR1stvs 3rd-12th 2.08; 95% CI 1.93-2.24 and RR 2ndvs 3rd-12th 1.45; 95% CI 1.33-1.58, respectively). Considering all visits, the ER utilisation rate was inversely related with maternal education only for Italians (low educational level 44.0 and high educational level 73.9 for 100 children; p value for trend test < 0.001).

Conclusions

Our study observed a higher use of ER services by immigrant children and, to a lesser extent, by children of less educated Italian mothers. In immigrants, the excess is mostly due to non-urgent visits and only slightly to high acute conditions.

Keywords:
Emergency; Access; Immigrants; Citizenship; Socioeconomic status; Paediatric care