Emerg Med J doi:10.1136/emermed-2011-200187
  • Prehospital care

Achy breaky makey wakey heart? A randomised crossover trial of musical prompts

Press Release
  1. Peter O'Meara1,2,4
  1. 1Pre-hospital, Emergency and Cardiovascular Care Applied Research Group, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University, Coventry, UK
  2. 2School of Biomedical Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3School of Medicine, Birmingham University, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK
  4. 4La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Malcolm Woollard, Pre-hospital, Emergency and Cardiovascular Care Applied Research Group, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University, Room 304, Richard Crossman Building, Priory Street, Coventry CV1 5FB, UK; malcolm.woollard{at}
  1. Contributors MW conceived the study and conducted the statistical analysis; all authors contributed to the design, data collection, and drafting and approving the final manuscript for submission.

  • Accepted 11 September 2011
  • Published Online First 2 November 2011


Objective Compared with no music (NM), does listening to ‘Achy breaky heart’ (ABH) or ‘Disco science’ (DS) increase the proportion of prehospital professionals delivering chest compressions at 2010 guideline-compliant rates of 100–120 bpm and 50–60 mm depths?

Methods A randomised crossover trial recruiting at an Australian ambulance conference. Volunteers performed three 1-min sequences of continuous chest compressions on a manikin accompanied by NM, repeated choruses of ABH and DS, prerandomised for order.

Results 37 of 74 participants were men; median age 37 years; 61% were paramedics, 20% students and 19% other health professionals. 54% had taken cardiopulmonary resuscitation training within 1 year. Differences in compression rate (mode, IQR) were significant for NM (105, 99–116) versus ABH (120, 107–120) and DS (104, 103–107) versus ABH (p<0.001) but not NM versus DS (p=0.478). Differences in proportions of participants compressing at 100–120 bpm were significant for DS (61/74, 82%) versus NM (48/74, 65%, p=0.007) and DS versus ABH (47/74, 64%, p=0.007) but not NM versus ABH (p=1). Differences in compression depth were significant for NM (48 mm, 46–59 mm) versus DS (54 mm, 44–58 mm, p=0.042) but not NM versus ABH (54 mm, 43–59 mm, p=0.065) and DS versus ABH (p=0.879). Differences in proportions of subjects compressing at 50–60 mm were not significant (NM 31/74 (42%); ABH 32/74 (43%); DS 29/74 (39%); all p>0.5).

Conclusions Listening to DS significantly increased the proportion of prehospital professionals compressing at 2010 guideline-compliant rates. Regardless of intervention more than half gave compressions that were too shallow. Alternative audible feedback mechanisms may be more effective.


  • A copy of the trial protocol is available from the chief investigator, Professor M Woollard, malcolm.woollard{at}

  • Funding Financial support was provided by Charles Sturt University and the Australian College of Ambulance Professionals. Neither organisation played any role in the study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; or in the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethic approval was obtained from the Charles Sturt University School of Biomedical Sciences research ethics committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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