Are patients with longer emergency department wait times less likely to consent to research?


OBJECTIVES: There are unique challenges to enrolling patients in emergency department (ED) clinical research studies, including the time-sensitive nature of emergency conditions, the acute care environment, and the lack of an established relationship with patients. Prolonged ED wait times have been associated with a variety of adverse effects on patient care. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of ED wait times on patient participation in ED clinical research. The hypothesis was that increased ED wait times would be associated with reduced ED clinical research consent rates. METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study of all patients eligible for two diagnostic clinical research studies from January 1, 2008, through December 31, 2008, in an urban academic ED. Sex, age, race, study eligibility, and research consent decisions were recorded by trained study personnel. The wait times to registration and to be seen by a physician were obtained from administrative databases and compared between consenters and nonconsenters. An analysis of association between patient wait times for the outcome of consent to participate was performed using a multivariate logistic regression model. RESULTS: A total of 903 patients were eligible for enrollment and were asked for consent. Overall, 589 eligible patients (65%) gave consent to research participation. The consent rates did not change when patients were stratified by the highest and lowest quartile wait times for both time from arrival to registration (68% vs. 65%, p = 0.35) and time to be seen by a physician (65% vs. 66%, p = 0.58). After adjusting for patient demographics (age, race, and sex) and study, there was still no relationship between wait times and consent (p > 0.4 for both wait times). Furthermore, median time from arrival to registration did not differ between those who consented to participate (15 minutes; interquartile range [IQR] = 9 to 36 minutes) versus those who did not (15.5 minutes; IQR = 10 to 39 minutes; p = 0.80; odds ratio [OR] = 1.00, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.99 to 1.01). Similarly, there was no difference in the median time to be seen by a physician between those who consented (25 minutes; IQR = 15 to 55 minutes) versus those who did not (25 minutes; IQR = 15 to 56 minutes; p = 0.70; OR = 1.00, 95% CI = 0.99 to 1.01). CONCLUSIONS: Regardless of wait times, nearly two-thirds of eligible patients were willing to consent to diagnostic research studies in the ED. These findings suggest that effective enrollment in clinical research is possible in the ED, despite challenges with prolonged wait times.





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Publication Info

Limkakeng, Alexander T, Seth W Glickman, Frances Shofer, Giselle Mani, Weiying Drake, Debbie Freeman, Simon Ascher, Ricardo Pietrobon, et al. (2012). Are patients with longer emergency department wait times less likely to consent to research?. Acad Emerg Med, 19(4). pp. 396–401. 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2012.01310.x Retrieved from

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Alexander Tan Limkakeng

Professor of Emergency Medicine

Dr. Alexander T. Limkakeng, Jr., MD, MHSc, FACEP is a Professor of Emergency Medicine, Vice Chair of Clinical Research, Director of the Acute Care Research Team, and Director of the Resident Research Fellowship for the Department of Emergency Medicine in the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina.

Dr. Limkakeng has served as chair of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Research Committee, and been the Course Director of the ACEP Research Forum from 2016-2018, the largest emergency medical research platform in the nation. He is also the Assistant Director of ACEP’s Emergency Medicine Basic Research Skills course. He was elected to the Nominating Committee of the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine.

As a researcher, Dr. Limkakeng has led multiple clinical trials and interdepartmental sponsored projects and is author on over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts. These include studies in emergency conditions such as COVID-19, traumatic brain injury, hypertension, heart failure, thrombosis, stroke, envenomations, and septic shock. His research has been funded by grants and contracts totaling over $9 million dollars. He has lectured internationally on acute coronary syndrome, responsible conduct of research, design of clinical trials, and precision medicine in emergency care. He has led Duke’s involvement in NIH-funded research networks and in industry-funded work that led to FDA approval for multiple high-sensitivity cardiac troponin assays and point-of-care COVID-19 diagnostic tests. He has servesd as Co-PI for the Duke U24 Hub in the NIH Early Phase Pain Investigation Clinical Network (EPPIC-Net) (1U24NS114416) and now serves as a co-PI on the Duke U24 Hub award (1U24NS129498) in the NIH Strategies to Innovate Emergency Care Clinical Trials (SIREN) Network and in the NIH NINDS Strokenet network (1U24NS135250)

His personal research interest is finding new ways to diagnose acute coronary syndrome. In particular, he is interested in novel biomarkers and precision medicine approaches to this problem. The common element throughout this work is a focus on time-sensitive health conditions.

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