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Developing metrics for emergency care research in low- and middle-income countries.



There is little research on emergency care delivery in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). To facilitate future research, we aimed to assess the set of key metrics currently used by researchers in these settings and to propose a set of standard metrics to facilitate future research.


Systematic literature review of 43,109 published reports on general emergency care from 139 LMICs. Studies describing care for subsets of emergency conditions, subsets of populations, and data aggregated across multiple facilities were excluded. All facility- and patient-level statistics reported in these studies were recorded and the most commonly used metrics were identified.


We identified 195 studies on emergency care delivery in LMICs. There was little uniformity in either patient- or facility-level metrics reported. Patient demographics were inconsistently reported: only 33% noted average age and 63% the gender breakdown. The upper age boundary used for paediatric data varied widely, from 5 to 20 years of age. Emergency centre capacity was reported using a variety of metrics including annual patient volume (n = 175, 90%); bed count (n = 60, 31%), number of rooms (n = 48, 25%); frequently none of these metrics were reported (n = 16, 8%). Many characteristics essential to describe capabilities and performance of emergency care were not reported, including use and type of triage; level of provider training; admission rate; time to evaluation; and length of EC stay.


We found considerable heterogeneity in reporting practices for studies of emergency care in LMICs. Standardised metrics could facilitate future analysis and interpretation of such studies, and expand the ability to generalise and compare findings across emergency care settings.

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