There has been an unprecedented increase in critical care research recently, and there is a need for an organized and systematic approach to surgical critical care research planning. The purpose of this article was to establish a surgical critical care research agenda via a systematic review of the literature and needs assessment.
A systematic review of the literature was performed to identify high-impact critical care articles since 1999 on the basis of citation data. Using a standardized data abstraction tool, surgical representation in the literature was analyzed. A needs assessment was performed using a modified Delphi approach in three rounds to obtain consensus among members of the Critical Care Committee of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (n = 30) regarding research priorities in surgical critical care.
Of 1,019 articles screened, 645 underwent full-text review, and 276 articles were included in the final analysis. Surgical patients were identified in 177 studies (64.1%), whereas trauma patients were identified in 82 (31.7%). Key categories identified during the first round of the Delphi included end of life care, traumatic brain injury (TBI), delirium, post-intensive care syndrome (PICS), hemodynamic monitoring, and volume/fluid balance. During the second and third rounds, 10 topics were classified as high priority. The three highest ranked topics were: addressing goals of care in the acute care setting (4.44 ± 0.70); improving prognostic indicators in patients with severe TBI (4.38 ± 0.85); and interventions to mitigate PICS (4.22 ± 0.65). There was a strong positive correlation in ratings (Rs value = 0.90, p = 0.001) between rounds 2 and 3.
The results of this study highlight the recent surgical critical care research literature and may serve as a platform for future research endeavors in surgical critical care.