- AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of a nurse training intervention on the assessment of patients' care needs in telephone triage at an emergency unit. The objective of this study was to generate information about nurse training that can be utilized when developing telephone triage and health care education. BACKGROUND: With the growing number of patients coming into emergency departments and a lack of resources in healthcare, it would be valuable to determine an effective training intervention in telephone triage, particularly when assessing the training needs of nurses. DESIGN: The study was quasi-experimental, with a pre- and post-test design. METHODS: The data were collected from the nurses at the emergency department and joint emergency service of the Central Hospital in Northern Finland (baseline n = 28, post-test n = 26). The descriptive statistic, Fisher's χ(2) test and McNemar's test were used to analyse the data. RESULTS: The intervention improved nurses' skills to evaluate patients' needs and health condition via the telephone triage. There was a statistically significant difference in the resources, knowledge, skills and attitudes of the nurses between the baseline and post-test measurements. CONCLUSIONS: The nurse training intervention improved the quality of telephone triage. RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Nurses should receive continuous training in telephone triage in order to maintain and reinforce their professional competence. When planning the training, the age and relevant work experience of the nurses should be taken into consideration as well, since the results indicate that they lead to variation in the nurses' competence.