In recent years, in Italy the overcrowding of the emergency departments (ED), closely linked to the phenomenon of the improper accesses, is experiencing a gradual and steady increase, with negative consequences for both the users and the operators. The present study aims to investigate the influence of some individual variables on the decision to go to the PS without a real emergency. In particular, through self-report questionnaires, socio-demographic factors, specific personality characteristics, the individual level of health literacy and trust in respect of the general practitioner. The sample consists of 198 participants aged between 23 and 89 years. The results show that different sets of factors, such as age, the level of anxiety, the need for cognitive closure and the health knowledge actually possessed by the participants, affect significantly on how to access the PS. In particular, it emerges that older people use the PS in a more appropriate way than younger people; in addition, a good level of health knowledge, a low level of anxiety and a low need for cognitive closure are associated with a significantly more appropriate mode of access to the PS.
Keywords: Health Literacy, Personality, Elderly, Access to Emergency Department.