Emergency medicine in the developing world: a Delphi study

Acad Emerg Med. 2010 Jul;17(7):765-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2010.00791.x.


Objectives: Emergency medicine (EM) as a specialty has developed rapidly in the western world, but remains largely immature in developing nations. There is an urgent need for emergency services, but no clear guidelines are available on the priorities for establishing EM in the developing world. This study seeks to establish consensus on key areas of EM development in developing world settings, with respect to scope of EM, staffing needs, training requirements, and research priorities.

Methods: A three-round Delphi study was conducted via e-mail. A panel was convened of 50 EM specialists or equivalent, with experience in or interest in EM in the developing world. In the first round, panelists provided free-text statements on scope, staffing, training, and research priorities for EM in the developing world. A five-point Likert scale was used to rate agreement with the statements in Rounds 2 and 3. Consensus statements are presented as a series of synopsis statements for each of the four major themes.

Results: A total of 168 of 208 statements (81%) had reached consensus at the end of the study. Key areas in which consensus was reached included EM being a specialist-driven service, with substantial role for nonphysicians. International training courses should be adapted to local needs. EM research in developing countries should be clinically driven and focus on local issues of importance.

Conclusions: The scope and function of EM and relationships with other specialties are defined. Unambiguous principles are laid out for the development of the specialty in developing world environments. The next step required in this process is translation into practical guidelines for the development of EM in developing world settings where they may be used to drive policy, protocols, and research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research
  • Consensus
  • Delphi Technique
  • Developing Countries*
  • Emergency Medicine / education
  • Emergency Medicine / organization & administration*
  • Health Priorities
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Workforce