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This study set out to assess whether witnessing an unsuccessful resuscitation attempt of a family member in cardiac arrest caused relatives to display symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A total of 34 witnesses and 20 non-witnesses were compared and were similar both demographically and in their relationship to their relative (the patient). Data were analysed using the PTSD symptom scale-interview (PSS-I). It was found that the total PTSD symptom scores of witnesses were almost twice as high as those of non-witnesses (14.47 vs 7.60 respectively, mean difference 6.87). The results of linear regression analysis showed that witnessing resuscitation of a loved one resulted in a mean increase of almost 12 points in the PSS-I after variables such as the suddenness and location of cardiac arrest were taken into account. This study is of value to prehospital care providers in deciding whether to allow relatives to remain present during the resuscitation of their loved one. Further research is needed, however, as other studies have indicated that relatives found witnessing the resuscitation of a loved one to be of help as they could later assure …
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.