Large, multicentre studies are required in emergency medicine to advance clinical care and improve patient outcomes. The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine clinical trials network is available to researchers to assist with facilitating large, multicentre research. However, there is no current information about the research capacity of emergency departments (EDs) in Australia and New Zealand.
All EDs accredited for emergency medicine training in Australia and New Zealand were eligible to participate. Research leads or ED directors were invited via email and telephone to complete a survey. Data were collected regarding the presence of a research lead; their research experience; available research resources including colleagues, funding, departmental paid research time; publications; and research culture.
One hundred and twelve responses were received on behalf of 122 (84%) sites (10 satellite plus main) from a possible 143 sites with all types of hospitals and regions represented. Research leads were identified at 66 (59%) sites; 32 (29%) had a director of emergency medicine research. A wide range of research was underway. Ninety-six sites (66%) contributed data to multicentre projects. Twenty-one centres (17%) were highly productive with multiple resources (skilled colleagues, funding, staffing), a positive research culture and high-volume output. Sixty to seventy centres (50-58%) had limited resources, experienced an unsupportive research culture and authored manuscripts infrequently. Paid time for research directors was associated with increased research outputs.
ACEM sites have the capacity to undertake large multicentre studies with a varied network of sites and researchers. While some sites are well equipped for research, the majority of EDs had minimal research output.