Emergency Medical Services Education Research Priorities during COVID-19: A Modified Delphi Study

For which topic were research priorities identified?

impact of COVID-19 on initial emergency medical services (EMS) education

In which location was the research priority setting conducted?

North America - USA

Why was it conducted at all?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire medical community, and emergency medical services (EMS) are no exception. The need to understand the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic on the EMS education pipeline was recognized by national organizations and stakeholders in the EMS community. In order to understand and address the impact, a national task force steering committee was formed by gathering representatives from 13 organizations involved in EMS education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What was the objective?

to identify research priorities to understand the impact of COVID-19 on initial emergency medical services (EMS) education

What was the outcome?

a ranking list of 8 research topics

How long did the research prioritization take?

August 2020 - February 2021

Which methods were used to identify research priorities?


How were the priorities for research identified exactly?

Step 1: Delphi round 1: via survey: participants were asked: “For each of the following areas, what are the top three priorities to study to assess the impact of COVID-19 on initial EMS education in the US?”, 9 specific areas were indicated, 117 research priorities were submitted. Step 2: data analysis: thematic analysis of the responses, resulting in 49 distinct research priorities over the 9 areas, they were then reduced to 23 final research priorities owing to overlap across the topic areas. Step 3: Delphi round 2: via webinar: preliminary list of research priorities was presented, participants provided feedback and suggested additional research priorities, resulting in the addition of 4 research priorities. Step 4: Delphi round 3: via survey: participants were asked to rate each of the 27 research priorities by importance and feasibility, aggregated weighted importance score reflecting the combination of ratings for importance and feasibility was calculated, the top 12 priorities moved forward. Step 5: Delphi round 4: via webinar, summary of results was presented, participants were then asked to rank the research priorities, the top 8 research priorities were then used to create a final prioritized list. Step 6: Delphi round 5: via survey, participants were asked if they agreed with the top 8 prioritized list of research priorities, majority consensus was defined as at least 75% of participants agreeing with the prioritized list of the top 8 research priorities

Which stakeholders took part?

12 organizations of EMS stakeholders, overall 15 participants: American Ambulance Association, American College of Emergency Physicians, Commission on Accreditation for Prehospital Continuing Education, Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services, International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Firefighters, National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, National Association of EMS Educators, National Association of EMS Physicians, National Association of State EMS Officials, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, National Volunteer Fire Council. Delphi round 1: 11 participants. Delphi round 2: 15 participants. Delphi round 3 and 4: 12 participants. Delphi round 5: 11 participants.

How were stakeholders recruited?

Participants were identified by national stakeholder organizations that formed the task force steering committee. A total of 12 organizations were represented.

Were stakeholders actively involved or did they just participate?

Stakeholders not only participated but were also actively involved in the research prioritization process: They were part of a steering group. The steering group consisted of 12 organizations involved in EMS education.