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Contributions to public health around the world

02 April 2018
Volume 8 · Issue 1


The paramedic profession continues to establish itself in many healthcare settings across the world. A lack of common understanding of the role globally, as well as the differing nature of healthcare systems, can result in difficulties relating research carried out in one setting to another. The current article discusses the issues related to contextualising research in paramedic practice. Paramedics have progressed in many developed nations from being primarily providers of a medical transportation service to now being independent pre-hospital practitioners. This is contrasted by the situation found in some developing healthcare systems, however, where pre-hospital care services remain under-developed. The more recent contribution to wider public health outcomes made by the emerging paramedic profession needs to be viewed within the context in which it was developed. When research into paramedic care is considered for implementation in developing systems, the context in which the research was initially conducted should be accounted for.

Paramedics have progressed in many developed nations—from primarily making up a medical transportation service to becoming the independent pre-hospital practitioners we often see today. This development has led to some unique solutions to various issues in public healthcare policy. For example, managing increasing emergency department (ED) demand has given rise to the establishment of specialist roles in non-traditional practice settings (Raven et al, 2006). However, healthcare systems differ between countries. Those countries considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as having a ‘developing’ healthcare system (WHO, 2018) should not be directly compared with those with developed systems such as the UK.

The current article highlights challenges in contextualising recent professional developments that might allow for the interpretation of research for use in nations considered by the WHO (2018) as ‘developing’. The authors will demonstrate how recent professional developments might be contextualised, and made applicable for developing pre-hospital health services. Establishing the context of research will make it more transferable between settings. Furthermore, there are several difficulties in establishing internationally relevant research for paramedic practice.

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