Socioeconomic deprivation and accident and emergency attendances: Cross-sectional analysis of general practices in England

Rachel Scantlebury*, Stevo Durbaba, Kalwant Sidhu, Mark Ashworth, Gillian Rowlands, Peter Schofield

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Background Demand for England's accident and emergency (A&E) services is increasing and is particularly concentrated in areas of high deprivation. The extent to which primary care services, relative to population characteristics, can impact on A&E is not fully understood. Aim To conduct a detailed analysis to identify population and primary care characteristics associated with A&E attendance rates, particularly those that may be amenable to change by primary care services. Design and setting This study used a cross-sectional populationbased design. The setting was general practices in England, in the year 2011'2012. Method Multivariate linear regression analysis was used to create a model to explain the variability in practice A&E attendance rates. Predictor variables included population demographics, practice characteristics, and measures of patient experiences of primary care. Results The strongest predictor of general practice A&E attendance rates was social deprivation: the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD-2010) (β = 0.3. B = 1.4 [95% CI =1.3 to 1.6]), followed by population morbidity (GPPS responders reporting a long-standing health condition) (β = 0.2, B = 231.5 [95% CI = 202.1 to 260.8]), and knowledge of how to contact an out-of-hours GP (GPPS question 36) (β = 0.2, B = 128.7 [95% CI =149.3 to 108.2]). Other significant predictors included the practice list size (β = 0.1, B = 0.002 [95% CI = 0.003 to 0.002]) and the proportion of patients aged 04 years (β = 0.1, B = 547.3 [95% CI = 418.6 to 676.0]). The final model explained 34.4% of the variation in A&E attendance rates, mostly due to factors that could not be modified by primary care services. Conclusion Demographic characteristics were the strongest predictors of A&E attendance rates. Primary care variables that may be amenable to change only made a small contribution to higher A&E attendance rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e649-e654
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number639
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015


  • Accident and emergency department
  • General practice
  • Primary health care
  • Socioeconomic factors


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