Introduction: Trauma patients residing in rural areas face increased challenges to accessing timely and appropriate health services as a result of large geographic distances and limited resource availability. Virtual trauma supports, coined teletrauma, is one solution that has been offered to address gaps in rural trauma care. Teletrauma represents a new and innovative solution to addressing health system gaps and optimizing patient care within rural settings. Here, we synthesize the empirical evidence on teletrauma research.
Methods: A review of literature, with no date limiters, was guided by Arksey and O’Malley’s (2005) scoping review methodology. The aim of the review was to provide an overview of the current landscape of teletrauma research while identifying factors associated with utilization.
Results: Following a systematic search of key health databases, 1,484 articles were initially identified, of which 28 met the inclusion criteria and were included for final analysis. From the review of the literature, the benefits of teletrauma for rural and remote areas were well-recognized. Several factors were found to be significantly associated with teletrauma utilization, including younger patient age, penetrating injury, and higher injury or illness severity. Lack of access to resources and clinician characteristics were also identified as reasons sites adopted teletrauma services.
Conclusion: By identifying factors associated with teletrauma utilization, teletrauma programs may be used more judiciously and effectively in rural areas as a means of enhancing access to definitive trauma care in rural areas. Gaps in current knowledge were also identified, along with recommendations for future research.