Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Jane Gervasio


Over 145 million Emergency Department (ED) visits occur annually in the United States. Policy makers continue to push for less ED visits for ambulatory sensitive conditions. The aim of this study was to explore the risk factors associated with being a frequent ED utilizer for low-acuity needs. This prospective survey study was conducted in two urban, level 1 trauma centers in Indianapolis, Indiana. The primary outcome was frequent ED utilization, defined as 4 or more visits in the past 12 months. Patient demographics, past ED visits, and primary care physician (PCP) utilization information were collected for 445 patients. A multivariate logistic regression model and Chi-square test were utilized to analyze associations between ED utilization and other factors. Of the 638 eligible ED patients, 445 were enrolled into the study. Patients were primarily female (274 females, 61.6%). Over half (55.1%) were African American and 36.4% were Caucasian. 291 (65.4%) patients stated they had a PCP, and 114 (25.6%) patients were frequent ED visitors. Having a PCP was not found to be associated with being a frequent ED visitor (p= 0.2978); however, patients with a higher Charlson Comorbidity Index score, experiencing unemployment, and with additional physicians besides a PCP were found to have higher odds of being a frequent ED visitor. Future research identifying additional factors that result in patients utilizing the ED for low-acuity needs is necessary.