Research Article: The influence of a major sporting event upon emergency department attendances; A retrospective cross-national European study

Date Published: June 13, 2018

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Helen E. Hughes, Felipe J. Colón-González, Anne Fouillet, Alex J. Elliot, Céline Caserio-Schonemann, Thomas C. Hughes, Naomh Gallagher, Roger A. Morbey, Gillian E. Smith, Daniel Rh. Thomas, Iain R. Lake, Donald R. Olson.


Major sporting events may influence attendance levels at hospital emergency departments (ED). Previous research has focussed on the impact of single games, or wins/losses for specific teams/countries, limiting wider generalisations. Here we explore the impact of the Euro 2016 football championships on ED attendances across four participating nations (England, France, Northern Ireland, Wales), using a single methodology. Match days were found to have no significant impact upon daily ED attendances levels. Focussing upon hourly attendances, ED attendances across all countries in the four hour pre-match period were statistically significantly lower than would be expected (OR 0.97, 95% CI 0.94–0.99) and further reduced during matches (OR 0.94, 95% CI 0.91–0.97). In the 4 hour post-match period there was no significant increase in attendances (OR 1.01, 95% CI 0.99–1.04). However, these impacts were highly variable between individual matches: for example in the 4 hour period following the final, involving France, the number of ED attendances in France increased significantly (OR 1.27, 95% CI 1.13–1.42). Overall our results indicate relatively small impacts of major sporting events upon ED attendances. The heterogeneity observed makes it difficult for health providers to predict how major sporting events may affect ED attendances but supports the future development of compatible systems in different countries to support cross-border public health surveillance.

Partial Text

Major sporting events have the potential to influence the behaviour of the general public; wins are celebrated and losses commiserated, both locally at the event and for those following remotely (e.g. television). This public response to sporting events may have an effect on the numbers and types of attendances seen in emergency departments (EDs). The organisation of ED staffing and equipment (e.g. inpatient bed availability) in preparation for these events rely on planning assumptions, though few studies have examined the impact of major sporting events on ED attendances in detail.

Euro 2016 was held in France from 10 June to 10 July 2016 [19]. Of the 51 matches played, 19 involved the England (n = 4), France (n = 7), NI (n = 4) and Wales (n = 6) national teams (Wales played matches against both England and NI).

To our knowledge, this is the first cross-national study of the public health impact of a major sporting tournament upon ED attendances. This provides a unique insight into the impact on both the host nation, and countries with fans following the tournament from home. The use of standard public health data and a single methodology across multiple countries contrasts with previous studies which used a variety of different public health data and varying methods. This study focussed on ED attendances only, though there is no reason to believe other measures (e.g. ambulance attendances, hospital admissions) would not have shown similar results.




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