Introduction: Emergency Medical Services (EMS) clinicians commonly encounter patients with acute pain. A new set of evidence-based guidelines (EBG) was developed to assist in the prehospital management of pain. Our objective was to describe the methods used to develop these evidence-based guidelines for prehospital pain management.
Methods: The EBG development process was supported by a previous systematic review conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) covering nine different population, intervention, comparison, and outcome (PICO) questions. A technical expert panel (TEP) was formed and added an additional pediatric-specific PICO question. Identified evidence was evaluated using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) framework and tabulated into Summary of Findings tables. The TEP then utilized a rigorous systematic method, including the PanelVoice function, for recommendation development which was applied to generate Evidence to Decision Tables (EtD). This process involved review of the Summary of Findings tables, asynchronous member judging, and facilitated panel discussion to generate final consensus-based recommendations.
Results: The work product described above was completed by the TEP panel from September 2020 to April 2021. For these recommendations, the overall certainty of evidence was very low or low, data for decisions on cost effectiveness and equity were lacking, and feasibility was rated well across all categories. Based on the evidence, one strong and seven conditional recommendations were made, with two PICO questions lacking sufficient evidence to generate a recommendation.
Conclusion: We describe a protocol that leveraged established EBG development techniques, the GRADE framework in conjunction with a previous AHRQ systematic review to develop treatment recommendations for prehospital pain management. This process allowed for mitigation of many confounders due to the use of virtual and electronic communication. Our approach may inform future guideline development and increase transparency in the prehospital recommendations development processes.