Impact of Trauma System Structure on Injury Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
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The effectiveness of trauma systems in decreasing injury mortality and morbidity has been well demonstrated. However, little is known about which components contribute to their effectiveness. We aimed to systematically review the evidence of the impact of trauma system components on clinically important injury outcomes.
We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane CENTRAL, and BIOSIS/Web of Knowledge, gray literature and trauma association Web sites to identify studies evaluating the association between at least one trauma system component and injury outcome. We calculated pooled effect estimates using inverse-variance random-effects models. We evaluated quality of evidence using GRADE criteria.
We screened 15,974 records, retaining 41 studies for qualitative synthesis and 19 for meta-analysis. Two recommended trauma system components were associated with reduced odds of mortality: inclusive design (odds ratio [OR] = 0.72 [0.65–0.80]) and helicopter transport (OR = 0.70 [0.55–0.88]). Pre-Hospital Advanced Trauma Life Support was associated with a significant reduction in hospital days (mean difference [MD] = 5.7 [4.4–7.0]) but a nonsignificant reduction in mortality (OR = 0.78 [0.44–1.39]). Population density of surgeons was associated with a nonsignificant decrease in mortality (MD = 0.58 [−0.22 to 1.39]). Trauma system maturity was associated with a significant reduction in mortality (OR = 0.76 [0.68–0.85]). Quality of evidence was low or very low for mortality and healthcare utilization.
This review offers low-quality evidence for the effectiveness of an inclusive design and trauma system maturity and very-low-quality evidence for helicopter transport in reducing injury mortality. Further research should evaluate other recommended components of trauma systems and non-fatal outcomes and explore the impact of system component interactions.
The authors would like to thank Michèle Shemilt for her assistance with the search strategy.
This research is funded by the Fonds de Recherche du Québec—Santé (research career award, LM) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Foundation Grant #353374 [LM], Canada Research Chair in Critical Care Neurology and Trauma [AFT]).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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