Article Text

other Versions

Can training improve laypersons helping behaviour in first aid? A randomised controlled deception trial
  1. Stijn Van de Velde1,2,
  2. Ann Roex3,
  3. Karoline Vangronsveld1,
  4. Lidewij Niezink4,
  5. Koen Van Praet1,
  6. Annemie Heselmans2,
  7. Peter Donceel5,
  8. Philippe Vandekerckhove1,
  9. Dirk Ramaekers2,
  10. Bert Aertgeerts2
  1. 1Belgian Red Cross–Flanders, Mechelen, Belgium
  2. 2Belgian Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, Leuven, Belgium
  3. 3Department of General Practice, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  4. 4Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
  5. 5Research Unit Social and Preventive Health Care, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Dr Stijn Van de Velde, Belgian Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, Kapucijnenvoer 33, block J, box 7001, Leuven 3000, Belgium; stijn.vandevelde{at}


Background There is limited evidence indicating that laypersons trained in first aid provide better help, but do not help more often than untrained laypersons. This study investigated the effect of conventional first aid training versus conventional training plus supplementary training aimed at decreasing barriers to helping.

Methods The authors conducted a randomised controlled trial. After 24 h of conventional first aid training, the participants either attended an experimental lesson to reduce barriers to helping or followed a control lesson. The authors used a deception test to measure the time between the start of the unannounced simulated emergency and seeking help behaviour and the number of particular helping actions.

Results The authors randomised 72 participants to both groups. 22 participants were included in the analysis for the experimental group and 36 in the control group. The authors found no statistically or clinically significant differences for any of the outcome measures. The time until seeking help (geometrical mean and 95% CI) was 55.5 s (42.9 to 72.0) in the experimental group and 56.5 s (43.0 to 74.3) in the control group. 57% of the participants asked a bystander to seek help, 40% left the victim to seek help themselves and 3% did not seek any help.

Conclusion Supplementary training on dealing with barriers to helping did not alter the helping behaviour. The timing and appropriateness of the aid provided can be improved.

Trial registration The authors registered this trial at as NCT00954161.

  • First aid
  • helping behaviour
  • educational measurement
  • myocardial infarction
  • acute myocardial infarct
  • education
  • assessment
  • effectiveness
  • first responders
  • prehospital care
  • first responders

Statistics from


  • Funding This study was co-funded by the Belgian Red Cross-Flanders and the Laerdal Foundation for Acute Medicine. The Laerdal Foundation was not involved in any part of the study.

  • Competing interests PV, SVDV, KVP are employed and KV volunteers in the Belgian Red Cross-Flanders which provides training in first aid and which received funding for this study from the Laerdal Foundation for Acute Medicine; AH, AR, BA, DR, LN, PD have no financial or non-financial interests that may be relevant to the submitted work.

  • Patient consent No patient images are being used. Custom patient consent forms have been used in the study.

  • Ethics approval The ethics approval was provided by University Hospitals Leuven Medical Ethics Committee.

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

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.