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Less is more. Possible ways to improve tuition of the recovery position
  1. Mary Sissons Joshi,
  2. Roger Lamb
  1. Department of Psychology, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mary Sissons Joshi, Department of Psychology, Oxford Brookes University, Headington Campus, Gipsy Lane, Oxford OX3 0BU, UK; msissons-joshi{at}


Aim To identify what 10–11-year-old children do and do not learn during a 10 min session teaching the recovery position, with a view to suggesting possible improvements in training.

Methods Participants were 148 boys and 144 girls. Before intervention, safety knowledge was assessed in a pencil and paper test. 198 children were taught the recovery position at a safety education centre. Three months later, their attempts to leave a casualty in a safe position were observed, and compared with the attempts of 94 children who had not received training.

Results 19% of the control group and 31% of trained children successfully placed a casualty in the recovery position. Only two of the seven standard routine moves were used by more than 50% of trained children, namely raise the casualty's leg to a flexed position, roll the casualty on to his/her side. Even when performed, these and other individual moves were often not integrated into an effective routine.

Conclusions The implication is that in a short session it is over-ambitious to attempt to teach a complex routine. It is more realistic to focus on a few moves which are easily learnt. The present results suggest that these should be flexing the leg and rolling the casualty on to his/her side. In this study, simply improving the participants' performance of these two moves could increase the number of learners who are successful from less than a third to nearly 50%.

  • Recovery position
  • first aid
  • basic life support
  • training
  • children
  • lay persons
  • resuscitation
  • accident prevention
  • prehospital care
  • first responders
  • psychology

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  • Funding This work was funded by the Department of Health, and the Health & Safety Executive, UK. Neither the Department of Health nor the Health & Safety Executive UK had any involvement in the study design, the collection, analysis and interpretation of the data, the writing of the manuscript or its submission for publication.

  • Competing interests. None.

  • Ethics approval The Social Sciences & Law Ethics Committee, Oxford Brookes University.

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

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