Effect of Randomized Clinical Trial Findings on Emergency Management


Hudgins JD, Fine AM, Bourgeois FT. Effect of Randomized Clinical Trial Findings on Emergency Management. Acad Emerg Med 2016;23:36-47.

Date Published:



OBJECTIVES: Research findings are not consistently adopted in the clinical setting and there is a gap between best evidence and clinical practice across a range of conditions and settings. A number of factors may contribute to this discrepancy, including the direction of the research findings (i.e., whether positive or negative for an intervention). The objectives of this study were to measure the translation of results from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) into clinical care and to determine whether the direction of the trial findings influence the uptake of research reports into clinical practice. METHODS: This was a retrospective study of clinical care provided in emergency departments (EDs) across the United States with data collected by the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 1992 to 2010. RCTs published in journals with the highest impact factors and conducted in ED settings were selected and data were extracted on the interventions under study, the patient populations examined, and the trial findings. Changes in clinical practice corresponding to the RCT results were measured by comparing the rates of treatment with the intervention during the 3-year period before and after publication of the trial. RESULTS: Twenty-one RCTs met the inclusion criteria. Ten studies reported positive interventions, of which nine (90%) were associated with an increased ED use of the intervention after trial publication. Four studies showing the lack of benefit of interventions were not used in ED practice prior to the trial and practice did not change in the postpublication period. The remaining eight trials presented negative findings or results comparing two different interventions, and of these, three (38%) were associated with small changes in the ED use of the interventions, consistent with the trial results. CONCLUSIONS: In the ED setting, results of RCTs published in high-impact journals are more likely to be translated into clinical care when they demonstrate the benefits of an intervention. Our findings indicate that direction of research evidence is an important factor when evaluating knowledge uptake into clinical practice.


Hudgins, Joel DFine, Andrew MBourgeois, Florence TengAcad Emerg Med. 2016 Jan;23(1):36-47. doi: 10.1111/acem.12840. Epub 2015 Dec 31.

Last updated on 06/21/2018