The Canadian prehospital evidence-based protocols project: knowledge translation in emergency medical services care

Acad Emerg Med. 2009 Jul;16(7):668-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2009.00440.x.


Objectives: The principles of evidence-based medicine are applicable to all areas and professionals in health care. The care provided by paramedics in the prehospital setting is no exception. The Prehospital Evidence-based Protocols Project Online (PEP) is a repository of appraised research evidence that is applicable to interventions performed in the prehospital setting and is openly available online. This article describes the history, current status, and potential future of the project.

Methods: The primary objective of the PEP is to catalog and grade emergency medical services (EMS) studies with a level of evidence (LOE). Subsequently, each prehospital intervention is assigned a class of recommendation (COR) based on all the appraised articles on that intervention, in an effort to organize the evidence so it may be put into practice efficiently. An LOE is assigned to each article by the section editor, based on the study rigor and applicability to EMS. The section editor committee consists of EMS physicians and paramedics from across Canada, and two from Ireland and a paramedic coordinator. The evidence evaluation cycle is continuous; as the section editors send back appraisals, the coordinator updates the database and sends out another article for review.

Results: The database currently has 182 individual interventions organized under 103 protocols, with 933 citations.

Conclusions: This project directly meets recent recommendations to improve EMS by using evidence to support interventions and incorporating it into protocols. Organizing and grading the evidence allows medical directors and paramedics to incorporate research findings into their daily practice. As such, this project demonstrates how knowledge translation can be conducted in EMS.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Diffusion of Innovation*
  • Emergency Medical Services / standards*
  • Emergency Medical Services / trends
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination
  • Nova Scotia
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Organizational Objectives