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Knowledge of and attitudes towards resuscitation in New Zealand high-school students
  1. M M Parnell,
  2. J Pearson,
  3. D C Galletly,
  4. P D Larsen
  1. Department of Surgery and Anaesthesia, Wellington School of Medicine, Wellington, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to:
 P Larsen
 Department of Surgery and Anaesthetics, Wellington School of Medicine, PO Box 7343, Wellington 6015, New Zealand;Peter.Larsen{at}


Background: Introducing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training in the high-school curriculum has been widely recommended as a long-term strategy to educate the wider community. Although CPR has been included in the New Zealand school curriculum, it is listed as an optional subject only.

Aim: To assess the attitude towards and knowledge of CPR in 16–17-year-old high-school students in New Zealand.

Methods: Questionnaires were administered to 494 students aged 16–17 years across six high schools in Wellington, New Zealand. Both knowledge and attitude were evaluated in the questionnaire.

Results: Students showed poor theoretical knowledge, with a mean (SD) score of 5.61 (2.61) out of a maximum score of 18. Although there was no difference between male and female students, those who had received previous first-aid training (70%) showed greater knowledge (6.04 (2.56)) than their untrained counterparts (4.91 (2.24); p = 0.001). Those students with a positive attitude towards CPR and first-aid training (63%) acquired a higher knowledge score (6.12 (2.4)) than those with a negative attitude (17%; 4.65 (2.5); p = 0.001). Students with negative associations were also less likely to want to learn more about CPR and first aid (11%) when compared with those with positive associations (92%), and indicated less willingness to perform CPR on a stranger (negative v positive, 47% v 70%).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that although most high-school students are willing and motivated to learn CPR, a smaller percentage of students had a negative attitude towards CPR that would act as a barrier to future learning or performance of resuscitation. Introducing CPR training to high schools is still recommended; however, this study shows the need to associate this training with positive references in an attempt to assist those for whom negative attitude may present as a barrier to learning and retaining CPR knowledge.

  • CPR, cardiopulmonary resuscitation

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  • Competing interests: None.