Randomised controlled trials in pre-hospital trauma: a systematic mapping review

Matilda K. Björklund, Moira Cruickshank, Robbie A Lendrum, Katie Gillies* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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Trauma is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide with about 5.8 million deaths globally and the leading cause of death in those aged 45 and younger. The pre-hospital phase of traumatic injury is particularly important as care received during this phase has effects on survival. The need for high quality clinical trials in this area has been recognised for several years as a key priority to improve the evidence base and, ultimately, clinical care in prehospital trauma. We aimed to systematically map the existing evidence base for pre-hospital trauma trials, to identify knowledge gaps and inform decisions about the future research agenda.

A systematic mapping review was conducted first employing a search of key databases (MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, and Cochrane Library from inception to March 23rd 2020) to identify randomised controlled trials within the pre-hospital trauma and injury setting. The evidence ‘map’ identified and described the characteristics of included studies and compared these studies against existing priorities for research. Narrative description of studies informed by analysis of relevant data using descriptive statistics was completed.
23 eligible studies, including 10,405 participants across 14 countries, were identified and included in the systematic map. No clear temporal or geographical trends in publications were identified. Studies were categorised into six broad categories based on intervention type with evaluations of fluid therapy and analgesia making up 60% of the included trials. Overall, studies were heterogenous with regard to individual interventions within categories and outcomes reported. There was poor reporting across several studies. No studies reported patient involvement in the design or conduct of the trials.
This mapping review has highlighted that evidence from trials in prehospital trauma is sparse and where trials have been completed, the reporting is generally poor and study designs sub-optimal. There is a continued need, and significant scope, for improvement in a setting where high quality
evidence has great potential to make a demonstrable impact on care and outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number65
Number of pages16
JournalScandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2021

Bibliographical note

The authors thank Paul Manson (HSRU Information Scientist) for help with the database searches, Professor Graeme MacLennan for advice on categorising adaptive design trials, and Professor Marion Campbell for commenting on a draft version of the manuscript.
Funding statement
RL held an NHS Research Scotland Fellowship during the delivery of this project. 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 study design, collection, analysis and interpretation of data, reporting or the decision to publish.


  • trauma
  • injury
  • prehospital
  • RCT
  • mapping review


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