Mass gatherings are complex events that present a unique set of challenges to attendees’ health and well-being. There are numerous factors that influence the number and type of injuries and illnesses that occur at these events, including weather, event and venue type, and crowd demographics and behavior.
While the impact of some factors, such as weather conditions and the availability of alcohol, on patient presentations at mass gatherings have been described previously, the influence of many other variables, including crowd demographics, crowd behavior, and event type, is poorly understood. Furthermore, a large number of studies reporting on the influence of these variables on patient presentations are based on anecdotal evidence at a single mass-gathering event.
Data were collected by trained fieldworkers at 15 mass gatherings in South Australia and included event characteristics, crowd demographics, and weather. De-identified patient records were obtained from on-site health care providers. Data analysis included the calculation of patient proportions in each variable category, as well as the total number of patient presentations per event and the patient presentation rate (PPR).
The total number of expected attendees at the 15 mass gatherings was 303,500, of which 146 presented to on-site health care services. The majority of patient presentations occurred at events with a mean temperature between 20°C and 25°C. The PPR was more than double at events with a predominantly male crowd compared to events with a more equal sex distribution. Almost 90.0% of patient presentations occurred at events where alcohol was available.
The results of the study suggest that several weather, crowd, and event variables influence the type and number of patient presentations observed at mass-gathering events. Given that the study sample size did not allow for these interactions to be quantified, further research is warranted to investigate the relationships between alcohol availability, crowd demographics, crowd mobility, venue design, and injuries and illnesses.
Anikeeva O, Arbon P, Zeitz K, Bottema M, Lund A, Turris S, Steenkamp M. Patient presentation trends at 15 mass-gathering events in South Australia. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2018;33(4):368–374.
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