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Bull World Health Organ. 2016 Aug 1;94(8):585-598C. doi: 10.2471/BLT.15.162214. Epub 2016 May 13.

Uptake of the World Health Organization's trauma care guidelines: a systematic review.

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Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, Campus Box #356410, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98104, United States of America (USA).
Department of Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, USA .
Academy of Traumatology, Ahmedabad, India .
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana .
World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland .
Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle, USA .


in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish


To understand the degree to which the trauma care guidelines released by the World Health Organization (WHO) between 2004 and 2009 have been used, and to identify priorities for the future implementation and dissemination of such guidelines.


We conducted a systematic review, across 19 databases, in which the titles of the three sets of guidelines - Guidelines for essential trauma care, Prehospital trauma care systems and Guidelines for trauma quality improvement programmes - were used as the search terms. Results were validated via citation analysis and expert consultation. Two authors independently reviewed each record of the guidelines' implementation.


We identified 578 records that provided evidence of dissemination of WHO trauma care guidelines and 101 information sources that together described 140 implementation events. Implementation evidence could be found for 51 countries - 14 (40%) of the 35 low-income countries, 15 (32%) of the 47 lower-middle income, 15 (28%) of the 53 upper-middle-income and 7 (12%) of the 59 high-income. Of the 140 implementations, 63 (45%) could be categorized as needs assessments, 38 (27%) as endorsements by stakeholders, 20 (14%) as incorporations into policy and 19 (14%) as educational interventions.


Although WHO's trauma care guidelines have been widely implemented, no evidence was identified of their implementation in 143 countries. More serial needs assessments for the ongoing monitoring of capacity for trauma care in health systems and more incorporation of the guidelines into both the formal education of health-care providers and health policy are needed.

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