Emergency care research priorities in South Africa

  • DJ van Hoving
  • BK Barnetson
  • LA Wallis


Background: Emergency care research is rarely undertaken in low- and middle-income countries. A manageable ‘road map’ for research in South African (SA) emergency care is needed to address research gaps.

Objective: To identify, collate and prioritise research topics from identified knowledge gaps in emergency care in SA.

Methods: Seventy-six individuals were invited to participate in a modified Delphi study. Participants were requested to suggest important research topics before rating them. Consensus was achieved when >75% of participants strongly agreed or disagreed. Participants then ranked the agreed statements before selecting the most appropriate methodology relating to study design, funding and collaboration.

Results: Three hundred and fifty topics were suggested by 31 participants. Topics were collated into 123 statements before participants rated them. Consensus was achieved for 39 statements. The highest-ranked priority in the prehospital group was to determine which prehospital interventions improve outcomes in critically ill patients. The competence of emergency care providers in performing common lifesaving skills was deemed the most important in clinical emergency care. Implementing and reviewing quality improvement systems scored the highest under general systems and safety management. Only 22 statements achieved consensus regarding study design. The National Department of Health was the preferred funding source, while private organisations and emergency care societies were identified as possible collaborative partners.

Conclusion: This study provides expert consensus on priority research areas in emergency care in SA as a guide for emergency care providers to ensure evidence-based care that is relevant to the SA population.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0256-95749
print ISSN: 2078-5135