Structure and function of emergency care research networks: Strengths, weaknesses, and challenges

Linda Papa, Nathan Kuppermann, Katherine Lamond, William G. Barsan, Carlos A. Camargo, Joseph P. Ornato, Ian G. Stiell, David A. Talan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The ability of emergency care research (ECR) to produce meaningful improvements in the outcomes of acutely ill or injured patients depends on the optimal configuration, infrastructure, organization, and support of emergency care research networks (ECRNs). Through the experiences of existing ECRNs, we can learn how to best accomplish this. A meeting was organized in Washington, DC, on May 28, 2008, to discuss the present state and future directions of clinical research networks as they relate to emergency care. Prior to the conference, at the time of online registration, participants responded to a series of preconference questions addressing the relevant issues that would form the basis of the breakout session discussions. During the conference, representatives from a number of existing ECRNs participated in discussions with the attendees and provided a description of their respective networks, infrastructure, and challenges. Breakout sessions provided the opportunity to further discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these networks and patterns of success with respect to their formation, management, funding, best practices, and pitfalls. Discussions centered on identifying characteristics that promote or inhibit successful networks and their interactivity, productivity, and expansion. Here the authors describe the current state of ECRNs and identify the strengths, weaknesses, and potential pitfalls of research networks. The most commonly cited strengths of population- or disease-based research networks identified in the preconference survey were access to larger numbers of patients; involvement of physician experts in the field, contributing to high-level study content; and the collaboration among investigators. The most commonly cited weaknesses were studies with too narrow a focus and restrictive inclusion criteria, a vast organizational structure with a risk of either too much or too little central organization or control, and heterogeneity of institutional policies and procedures among sites. Through the survey and structured discussion process involving multiple stakeholders, the authors have identified strengths and weaknesses that are consistent across a number of existing ECRNs. By leveraging the strengths and addressing the weaknesses, strategies can be adopted to enhance the scientific value and productivity of these networks and give direction to future ECRNs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)995-1004
Number of pages10
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2009


  • Collaboration
  • Emergency care
  • Emergency research
  • Multicenter research
  • Research funding
  • Research networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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