Ethical considerations in prehospital ambulance based research: an interview study of expert informants

Armstrong, Stephanie, Langlois, Adele, Quinn, Tom and Siriwardena, A. Niroshan (2017) Ethical considerations in prehospital ambulance based research: an interview study of expert informants. In: Trent Regional SAPC Meeting, 21 March 2017, Lincoln.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status:Live Archive


Study objective: Prehospital ambulance based research has unique ethical considerations due to urgency, time-limitations and the locations (home, ambulance) involved. We sought to explore these issues through interviews with experts in this field of research.
Methods: We employed a qualitative design using semi-structured interviews with a range of expert informants seeking their views and experiences of ethics in ambulance based clinical trials. Participants were chosen because there were actively involved, or had expressed an interest in, ambulance based research. Participants were asked a series of questions regarding their experiences in ambulance trials, their opinions on current regulations and guidelines and the views on ethical considerations more generally. The interview transcripts were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim, coded by two researchers (SA and AL) and analysed thematically.
Results: We interviewed 14 participants including principal investigators, researchers, ethicists and medical lawyers. Six themes were identified: Capacity, Consent, Complexity, Clinical, Consultation and Regulation. Issues regarding consent and capacity in the ambulance setting were foremost in the discussion as all participants highlighted this as an area for concern. The challenges of the ambulance and use of multiple consent models setting spoke to the complexity research in this environment. The clinical theme referred to the use of paramedics in research and how research involving ambulance services is increasingly informing improvements to patient care and outcomes or reducing the burden on hospital services. Most participants felt that current regulations were fit for purpose however, more specific guidance regarding the implementation of the regulations in the ambulance setting would be beneficial for researchers, paramedics and ethics committees. This related closely to the theme of consultation, which examined the key role of ethics committees and other advisory groups such as the Confidentiality Advisory Group (CAG) when dealing specifically with ambulance based research.
Conclusions: Research in any setting may be complex but the ambulance context has unique issues due to its time pressured, emergency and remote environment. By interviewing experts in research or ethics in this setting we were able to identify some key issues and highlight areas such as improved guidance that can be developed in the future.

Keywords:Ethics, ambulance services, Randomised control trial, consent
Subjects:B Subjects allied to Medicine > B990 Subjects Allied to Medicine not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Health & Social Care
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ID Code:26685
Deposited On:13 Mar 2017 08:57

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