The influence of paramedic qualification level on the administration of analgesia in the prehospital setting

Bill Lord, Toby Keene, Cassie Luck




Undertreatment of pain has been reported in the paramedic literature, and reasons for these disparities are not well understood.


As the qualification level of the paramedic may affect analgesia administration, the primary aim of this study was to determine the impact of paramedic qualification on the provision of any analgesia for patients reporting pain.


Retrospective study of de-identified patient care records from one Australian ambulance service over a period of 6 months. Inclusion criteria were age was > 17 years, initial pain severity score was > 3/10 and Glasgow Coma Score >13. Data were descriptively analysed for analgesia administration and type of analgesic by predictor variables: age, sex, pain score and case nature. Pearson’s chi-square test was used to test for associations between the outcome of interest and predictor variables. Adjusted logged odds of patients receiving analgesia was tested with binomial logistic regression.


3173 patient records met the inclusion criteria. ICP treated 86% of the sample population. Of those treated by an AP, 76.2% (n=340) received analgesia, whereas 71.6% (n=1952) of patients treated by an ICP received analgesia (p=0.042). Methoxyflurane was the most frequently administered analgesic, with 39.9% of the patients (n=1,264) receiving this agent; 31.1% of patients (n=988) received morphine, and 14.2% (n=452) received fentanyl. The unadjusted regression model found that AP have higher odds of administering analgesia than ICP paramedics (OR 1.264, p <0.05). However, once other covariates are included in the logistic regression, the significance no longer exists.


Paramedic qualification is not associated with the administration of analgesia in this setting. This study contributes to the gap in knowledge regarding disparities in analgesia for adults experiencing pain and may inform future research that aims to identify and reduce barriers to appropriate pain management in the paramedic practice setting.


analgesia; pain management; paramedic; emergency medial service

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