A Structural Competency Framework for Emergency Medicine Research: Results from a Scoping Review & Consensus Conference
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A Structural Competency Framework for Emergency Medicine Research: Results from a Scoping Review & Consensus Conference

Abstract

Introduction: The application of structural competency and structural vulnerability to emergency medicine (EM) research has not been previously described despite EM researchers routinely engaging structurally vulnerable populations. The purpose of this study was to conduct a scoping review and consensus-building process to develop a structurally competent research approach and operational framework relevant to EM research.

Methods: We conducted a scoping review focused on structural competency and structural vulnerability. Results of the review informed the development of a structural competency research framework that was presented throughout a multi-step consensus process culminating in the 2021 Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Consensus Conference. Feedback to the framework was incorporated throughout the conference.

Results: The scoping review produced 291 articles with 123 articles relevant to EM research. All 123 articles underwent full-text review and data extraction following a standardized data extraction form. Most of the articles acknowledged or described structures that lead to inequities with a variety of methodological approaches used to operationalize structural competency and/or structural vulnerability. The framework developed aligned with components of the research process, drawing upon methodologies from studies included in the scoping review. 

Conclusion: The framework developed provides a starting point for EM researchers seeking to understand, acknowledge, and incorporate structural competency into EM research. By incorporating components of the framework, researchers may enhance their ability to address social, historical, political, and economic forces that lead to health inequities, reframing drivers of inequities away from individual factors and focusing on structural factors.

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