A systematic literature review on first aid provided by laypeople to trauma victims

Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2012 Nov;56(10):1222-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-6576.2012.02739.x. Epub 2012 Aug 17.


Death from trauma is a significant and international problem. Outcome for patients suffering out-of-hospital cardiac arrests is significantly improved by early cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The usefulness of first aid given by laypeople in trauma is less well established. The aim of this study was to review the existing literature on first aid provided by laypeople to trauma victims and to establish how often first aid is provided, if it is performed correctly, and its impact on outcome. A systematic review was carried out, according to preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analysis (PRISMA) guidelines, of all studies involving first aid provided by laypeople to trauma victims. Cochrane, Embase, Medline, Pubmed, and Google Scholar databases were systematically searched. Ten eligible articles were identified involving a total of 5836 victims. Eight studies were related to patient outcome, while two studies were simulation based. The proportion of patients who received first aid ranged from 10.7% to 65%. Incorrect first aid was given in up to 83.7% of cases. Airway handling and haemorrhage control were particular areas of concern. One study from Iraq investigated survival and reported a 5.8% reduction in mortality. Two retrospective autopsy-based studies estimated that correct first aid could have reduced mortality by 1.8-4.5%. There is limited evidence regarding first aid provided by laypeople to trauma victims. Due to great heterogeneity in the studies, firm conclusions can not be drawn. However, the results show a potential mortality reduction if first aid is administered to trauma victims. Further research is necessary to establish this.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Airway Management
  • Airway Obstruction / therapy
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • First Aid / mortality
  • First Aid / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hemorrhage / therapy
  • Humans
  • Iraq
  • Patient Simulation
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*