UJ’s Prof Stein examines emergency medical service performance and impact

“Response time, is it a golden metric of emergency medical service (EMS) performance? What is a ‘good’ response time, is there a benchmark? There is no denying that this is a matter of public perception. It is an important thing.”

With these questions, Professor Christopher Stein presented his research work for his professorial inauguration.

Prof Stein focused on three areas of his research work over the last few years; Emergency Medical Services Response Times, Stress and Anxiety in Students During Emergency Care Simulation Assessments, and Emergency Care Research with Incapacitated Patients.

The professorial inauguration took place on Wednesday, 30 August 2023 at the Ubuntu Chambers, Madibeng Building, Auckland Park Kingsway Campus.

The title of his address: Ambulances, anxiety and autonomy: Problems of response, replication and research in pre-hospital emergency care.

A Professor in Emergency Medical Care, Prof Stein presented his research to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic Prof Sehaam Khan and the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences (Acting) Professor Heidi Abrahamse as well as invited guests.


From left to right: Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic, Prof Sehaam Khan; Prof Christopher Stein; and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences (Acting), Prof Heidi Abrahamse

Investigating EMS performance metrics

For his research on response times, which involved computer simulation modelling of part of Cape Town’s Emergency Medical Services response system in order to answer questions about response system design factors and how they influence the system’s ability to meet national response time benchmarks, the results showed that the least adopted response system design factors (nationally) are the most effective at reducing response times, but even so, do not produce performance in line with the benchmark.

For the work he did on Stress and Anxiety in Students During Emergency Care Simulation Assessments; Prof Stein focused on some background about stress and anxiety in simulation assessment and results from four different studies related to this. These results highlight that our students have post-assessment anxiety scores which are the highest reported in the literature among other results.

The research work on Emergency Care Research with Incapacitated Patients saw the professor focus on patients incapable of consenting (because of their state, for example altered levels of consciousness, pain, anxiety etc.). South African law (the Bill of Rights and National Health Act) sets out a strict requirement of informed consent for any health research involving humans, which closes the door on emergency care research.

Prof. Stein’s contributions and achievements in Emergency Medical Care research

Prof. Stein was a founder of the Emergency Care Society of South Africa (ECSSA) and has honorary life membership of ECSSA. He served as ECCSA President between 2011 and 2017 and edited the Society’s professional magazine Sanguine between 2011 and 2014, until it was replaced by the Society’s peer-reviewed journal the South African Journal of Pre-hospital Emergency Care of which he is Editor-in-Chief.

He is currently a member of the Northern Region Community of Practice for Research Ethics and Integrity steering committee.

Prof. Stein is chair of the Department of Emergency Medical Care Research Committee and has been a long-standing member of the Faculty of Health Sciences Higher Degrees Committee.

Prof. Stein is a leading researcher in the field of emergency care. His research interests include the quality of pre-hospital emergency care, the psychological impact of working in emergency care, and the use of simulation in emergency care education. He has published 47 articles in peer-reviewed journals and presented his work at over 40 conferences. He has chaired or been a member of several conference organizing committees and is a peer-reviewer for many journals in the fields of emergency care, health professions education, and research ethics. He has supervised and co-supervised 10 doctoral students and has an h-index of 13. He has applied for NRF rating.

A brief response by Professor Ashraf Coovadia, Academic Head of Department, Paediatrics and Child Health, Rahima Moosa Mother & Child Hospital and the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS), followed after the address.

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