ACADEMIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE 2011; 18:988–1000 © 2011 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine


Objectives:  The objectives were to conduct a comprehensive, systematic review of the literature for risk adjustment measures (RAMs) and outcome measures (OMs) for prehospital trauma research and to use a structured expert panel process to recommend measures for use in future emergency medical services (EMS) trauma outcomes research.

Methods:  A systematic literature search and review was performed identifying the published studies evaluating RAMs and OMs for prehospital injury research. An explicit structured review of all articles pertaining to each measure was conducted using the previously established methodology developed by the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (“Physical Rehabilitation Outcome Measures”).

Results:  Among the 4,885 articles reviewed, 96 RAMs and/or OMs were identified from the existing literature (January 1958 to February 2010). Only one measure, the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), currently meets Level 1 quality of evidence status and a Category 1 (strong) recommendation for use in EMS trauma research. Twelve RAMs or OMs received Category 2 status (promising, but not sufficient current evidence to strongly recommend), including the motor component of GCS, simplified motor score (SMS), the simplified verbal score (SVS), the revised trauma score (RTS), the prehospital index (PHI), EMS provider judgment, the revised trauma index (RTI), the rapid acute physiology score (RAPS), the rapid emergency medicine score (REMS), the field trauma triage (FTT), the pediatric triage rule, and the out-of-hospital decision rule for pediatrics.

Conclusions:  Using a previously published process, a structured literature review, and consensus expert panel opinion, only the GCS can currently be firmly recommended as a specific RAM or OM for prehospital trauma research (along with core measures that have already been established and published). This effort highlights the paucity of reliable, validated RAMs and OMs currently available for outcomes research in the prehospital setting and hopefully will encourage additional, methodologically sound evaluations of the promising, Category 2 RAMs and OMs, as well as the development of new measures.