Utilisation and experience of emergency medical services by patients with back pain: a scoping review

Capsey, Matthew, Ryan, Cormac, Mankelow, Jagjit and Martin, Denis (2024) Utilisation and experience of emergency medical services by patients with back pain: a scoping review. Musculoskeletal Science and Practice, 71 . p. 102928.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msksp.2024.102928


Background: Back pain is recognised as a common reason for people to access emergency medical services (EMS). EMS focus on identifying and treating serious and life-threatening conditions. Back pain frequently has a non-specific cause, however back pain is also a symptom for potentially serious pathology best suited for management by EMS.

Objectives: This scoping review explores how and why patients with back pain access EMS, the care provided, and patients' and clinicians’ perceptions of EMS.

Methods: The established methodology advocated by the Joanna Briggs Institute was followed. Literature was identified via a comprehensive search of six databases as well as grey literature searching. Data was extracted to form a narrative review supported by summary tables and figures.

Results: The review included 144 papers across the last 36 years, with half the papers published since 2018, the majority from the USA and Australia. Rates of back pain presentation range from 1-9% depending on the definition used, with the rate of serious pathology higher than in primary care. Patients present due to concerns about their condition, positive perceptions of the care provided by EMS and difficulty in accessing primary care. Imaging and opioids are widely used, blood markers may aid diagnosis of serious pathology, whilst physiotherapists in Emergency Departments may support management of patients without serious pathology.

Conclusions: Back pain is a common reason for EMS presentation. Whilst non-specific back pain is the most common diagnosis further research to support the recognition and care of serious cases would be beneficial.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Musculoskeletal Science and Practice
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 2468-7812
Departments: Institute of Health > Centre for Excellence in Paramedic Practice
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2024 12:13
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2024 08:00
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/7606


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