Community Use of Epinephrine for the Treatment of Anaphylaxis: A Review and Meta-Analysis Journal Articles uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • BACKGROUND: Community use of epinephrine for the treatment of anaphylaxis is low. Knowledge of rates of epinephrine use in the pre-hospital setting along with identification of barriers to its use will contribute to the development of policies and guidelines. OBJECTIVES: A search was conducted on PubMed and Embase in April 2020. Our systematic review focused on 4 domains: (1) epinephrine use in the pre-hospital setting; (2) barriers to epinephrine use in the pre-hospital setting; (3) cost evaluation and cost-effectiveness of epinephrine use; and (4) programs and strategies to improve epinephrine use during anaphylaxis. METHODS: Two meta-analyses with logit transformation were conducted to: (1) calculate the pooled estimate of the rate of epinephrine use in the pre-hospital setting among cases of anaphylaxis and (2) calculate the pooled estimate of the rate of biphasic reactions among all cases of anaphylaxis. RESULTS: Epinephrine use in the pre-hospital setting was significantly higher for children compared with adults (20.98% [95% confidence interval (CI): 16.38%, 26.46%] vs 7.17% [95% CI: 2.71%, 17.63%], respectively, P = .0027). The pooled estimate of biphasic reactions among all anaphylaxis cases was 3.92% (95% CI: 2.88%, 5.32%). Our main findings indicate that pre-hospital use of epinephrine in anaphylaxis remains suboptimal. Major barriers to the use of epinephrine were identified as low prescription rates of epinephrine autoinjectors and lack of stock epinephrine in schools, which was determined to be cost-effective. Finally, in reviewing programs and strategies, numerous studies have engineered effective methods to promote adequate and timely use of epinephrine. CONCLUSION: The main findings of our study demonstrated that across the globe, prompt epinephrine use in cases of anaphylaxis remains suboptimal. For practical recommendations, we would suggest considering stock epinephrine in schools and food courts to increase the use of epinephrine in the community. We recommend use of pamphlets in public areas (ie, malls, food courts, etc.) to assist in recognizing anaphylaxis and after that with prompt epinephrine administration, to avoid the rare risk of fatality in anaphylaxis cases.


  • Miles, Laura May
  • Ratnarajah, Kayadri
  • Gabrielli, Sofianne
  • Abrams, Elissa M
  • Protudjer, Jennifer LP
  • Bégin, Philippe
  • Chan, Edmond S
  • Upton, Julia
  • Waserman, Susan
  • Watson, Wade
  • Gerdts, Jennifer
  • Ben-Shoshan, Moshe

publication date

  • June 2021