The current status and challenges of prehospital trauma care in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review

Quake, Sharmaine Yen Ling, Khoda, Fatimah, Rad, Arian Arjomandi, Ponniah, Hariharan Subbiah, Vardanyan, Robert, Frisoni, Paolo, Rad, Hoshang Arjomandi, Brasesco, Martina, Mustoe, Sophie et al (2023) The current status and challenges of prehospital trauma care in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review. Prehospital Emergency Care . pp. 1-19. ISSN 1090-3127

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This review aims to understand the present circumstances on the provision of prehospital trauma care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), particularly scoping the challenges experienced by LMICs in this regard. The objective is to systematically evaluate the currently available evidence on this topic. Based on the themes and challenges identified in the provision of prehospital trauma care in LMICs, we provide a series of recommendations and a knowledge base for future research in the field.

A systematic database search was conducted of original articles that explored and reported on prehospital trauma care in LMIC in EMBASE, MEDLINE, Cochrane database, and Google Scholar, from inception to March 2022. All original articles reporting on prehospital trauma care from 2010 to 2022 in LMICs were assessed, excluding case reports, small case series, editorials, abstracts, and pre-clinical studies; those with data inconsistencies that impede data extraction; and those with study populations fewer than ten.

The literature search identified 2,128 articles, of which 29 were included in this review, featuring 27,848 participants from LMICs countries. Four main areas of focus within the studies were identified: (1) exploring emergency service systems, frameworks, and interconnected networks within the context of prehospital trauma care; (2) transportation of patients from the response site to hospital care; (3) medical education and the effects of first responder training in LMICs; and (4) cultural and social factors influencing prehospital trauma care-seeking behaviours. Due to overarching gaps in social and health care systems, significant barriers exist at various stages of providing prehospital trauma care in LMICs, particularly in injury identification, seeking treatment, transportation to hospital, and receiving timely treatment and post-intervention support.

The provision of prehospital trauma care in LMICs faces significant barriers at multiple levels, largely dependent on wider social, geographic, economic, and political factors impeding the development of such higher functioning systems within health care. However, there have been numerous breakthroughs within certain LMICs in different aspects of prehospital trauma care, supported to varying degrees by international initiatives, that serve as case studies for widespread implementation and targets. Such experiential learning is essential due to the heterogenous landscapes that comprise LMICs.

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