Challenges and opportunities for conducting pre-hospital trauma trials: a behavioural investigation

Louisa Lawrie* (Corresponding Author), Eilidh M Duncan, Robert Lendrum, Victoria Lebrec, Katie Gillies

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND: Trials in pre-hospital trauma care are relatively uncommon. There are logistical and methodological challenges related to designing and delivering trials in this setting. Previous studies have assessed challenges reported in individual trials rather than across the pre-hospital trial landscape to identify over-arching factors. The aim of this study was to investigate the challenges and opportunities related to the set-up, design and conduct of pre-hospital trauma trials from across the pre-hospital trial landscape and a specific pre-hospital trauma feasibility study.

METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with two cohorts of participants: research personnel who had experience of pre-hospital trials, either through direct involvement in conduct or through strategic oversight of national initiatives (n = 7), and clinical staff (n = 16) involved in recruitment to a pre-hospital trauma feasibility study. Thematic analyses were used to assess the barriers and enablers of conducting pre-hospital trauma trials. Two frameworks (The Capability Opportunity Motivation-Behaviour and the Theoretical Domains Framework) were used to guide analyses.

RESULTS: The barriers and enablers reported were relevant to several TDF domains and COM-B components. Across both cohorts, challenges associated with opportunities were reported and included the lack of research experience amongst pre-hospital staff, team dynamics within a rotating shift schedule, and the involvement of external organisations with diverse institutional priorities and infrastructures (e.g. Air Ambulances). The infrequency of eligible cases was also reported to affect the trial design, set-up, and conduct. Other barriers reported related to clinical equipoise amongst staff and institutional pressures, which affected motivation.

CONCLUSIONS: This study has highlighted that pre-hospital trials face many context-specific but also generic challenges. Pre-hospital trauma trial teams could consider the findings to develop targeted, behaviourally focused, solutions to the challenges identified in order to enhance the set-up and conduct of trials in this setting.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT04145271. Trial registration date: October 30, 2019. Note that this paper does not report results from a specific trial but does include participants who were involved in the conduct of a registered pre-hospital feasibility study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number157
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Early online date2 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank the participants for dedicating their time to be interviewed. We extend our thanks to Claire Cochran for facilitating recruitment.

LL was supported by a Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund award (reference RG13793-49). The Health Services Research Unit, Institute of Applied Health Sciences (University of Aberdeen), is core-funded by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates. The funders had no involvement in the study design, collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, reporting, or the decision to publish.


  • Trials methodology
  • Feasibility
  • Behavioural Science
  • pre-hospital


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