Assessing attitudes toward spinal immobilization

Andrew J. Bouland, J. Lee Jenkins, Matthew J. Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Prospective studies have improved knowledge of prehospital spinal immobilization. The opinion of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers regarding spinal immobilization is unknown, as is their knowledge of recent research advances. Study Objectives To examine the attitudes, knowledge, and comfort of prehospital and Emergency Department (ED) EMS providers regarding spinal immobilization performed under a non-selective protocol. Methods: An online survey was conducted from May to July of 2011. Participants were drawn from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services and the Howard County General Hospital ED. The survey included multiple choice questions and responses on a modified Likert scale. Correlation analysis and descriptive data were used to analyze results. Results Comfort using the Kendrick Extrication Device was low among ED providers. Experienced providers were more likely to indicate comfort using this device. Respondents often believed that spinal immobilization is appropriate in the management of penetrating trauma to the chest and abdomen. Reported use of padding decreased along with the frequency with which providers practice and encounter immobilized patients. Respondents often indicated that they perform spinal immobilization due solely to mechanism of injury. Providers who feel as if spinal immobilization is often performed unnecessarily were more likely to agree that immobilization causes an unnecessary delay in patient care. Conclusions The results demonstrate the need for improved EMS education in the use of the Kendrick Extrication Device, backboard padding, and spinal immobilization in the management of penetrating trauma. The attitudes highlighted in this study are relevant to the implementation of a selective spinal immobilization protocol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e117-e125
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013


  • EMS protocols
  • EMS provider attitudes
  • EMS providers
  • selective spinal immobilization
  • spinal immobilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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