Project Summary

This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.

What is the research about?

A traumatic injury is a severe injury that requires immediate medical care. Children who have a traumatic injury often need special care from a child trauma center. But over half of children in the United States live at least 30 minutes away from such centers. As a result, many children with traumatic injuries receive care at emergency rooms, or ERs, in hospitals that don’t have child trauma centers. When this occurs, ERs use a standard approach, which includes consulting a child trauma specialist over the phone and, in many cases, transferring the child to a trauma center.

In this study, the research team is looking at virtual trauma care for children. The team wants to see if patients can receive effective trauma care without being transferred to a trauma center. In the virtual approach, a specialist from a child trauma center works with doctors in any ER to treat children by live video. The team is comparing virtual trauma care to standard care.

Who can this research help?

Results may help hospitals when considering ways to provide care for children with traumatic injuries.

What is the research team doing?

The research team is enrolling 380 children with traumatic injuries who visit one of 10 ERs in northern California. The team is assigning ERs by chance to offer standard or virtual trauma care. Standard trauma care includes a phone consultation with a child trauma specialist. Virtual trauma care includes a live video consultation with a child trauma center. In both approaches, children are transferred to a trauma center when necessary.

The research team is reviewing patients’ medical records and surveying parents 3 and 30 days after the child’s ER visit to learn about

  • Parents’ reported distress and their experience with care
  • Number of doctor visits and hospital stays within 30 days of the ER visit
  • Out-of-pocket costs to parents
  • How often patients were transferred from the ER to a trauma center

Families with children who had a traumatic injury and community members are helping to design and conduct the study.

Research methods at a glance

Design Element Description
Design Randomized controlled trial
Population Children up to age 17 who have a traumatic injury and are receiving care from 1 of 10 ERs in rural northern California
  • Virtual consultation with pediatric trauma center
  • Phone consultation with pediatric trauma specialist

Primary: parent-reported experience with care, parents’ distress

Secondary: healthcare utilization, out-of-pocket costs, transfer rates (from the ER to a trauma center)

Timeframe Up to 30-day follow-up for primary outcomes

Project Information

James P. Marcin, MD, MPH
The Regents of the University of California, Davis

Key Dates

January 2020
September 2024

Study Registration Information


Award Type
Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
Populations Populations PCORI is interested in research that seeks to better understand how different clinical and health system options work for different people. These populations are frequently studied in our portfolio or identified as being of interest by our stakeholders. View Glossary
Intervention Strategy Intervention Strategies PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies that compare two or more options or approaches to health care, or that compare different ways of delivering or receiving care. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: March 28, 2024