The aim of this study is to identify the types of community paramedicine programs and the training for each.
A systematic review of MEDLINE, Embase, grey literature, and bibliographies followed a search strategy using common community paramedicine terms. All studies published in English up to January 22, 2018, were captured. Screening and extraction were completed in duplicate by two independent reviewers. The Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT) was used to assess studies’ methodological quality (full methodology on PROSPERO: CRD42017051774).
From 3,004 papers, there were 64 papers identified (58 unique community paramedicine programs). Of the papers with an appraisable study design (40.6%), the median MMAT score was 3 of 4 criteria met, suggesting moderate quality. Programs most often served frequent 911 callers (48.3%) and individuals at risk for emergency department admission, readmission, or hospitalization (41.4%); and 70.7% of programs were preventive home visits. Common services provided were home assessment (29.5%), medication management (39.7%), and referral and/or transport to community services (37.9%); and 77.6% of programs involved interprofessional collaboration. Community paramedicine training was described by 57% of programs and expanded upon traditional paramedicine training and emphasized technical skills. Study heterogeneity prevented meta-analysis.
Community paramedicine programs and training were diverse and allowed community paramedics to address a spectrum of population health and social needs. Training was poorly described. Enabling more programs to assess and report on program and training outcomes would support community paramedicine growth and the development of formalized training or education frameworks.