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Public perception towards bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  1. Torben K Becker1,
  2. Sarah S Gul2,
  3. Scott A Cohen1,
  4. Carolina B Maciel3,
  5. Jacqueline Baron-Lee3,
  6. Travis W Murphy1,
  7. Teddy S Youn3,
  8. Joseph A Tyndall1,
  9. Clay Gibbons4,
  10. Lizzy Hart4,
  11. Carlos L Alviar5
  12. On behalf of the Florida Cardiac Arrest Resource Team
  1. 1 Emergency Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA
  2. 2 Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3 Neurology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
  4. 4 GatorCPR, Gainesville, Florida, USA
  5. 5 Cardiology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Torben K Becker, Emergency Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32608, USA; tbeckermd{at}


Objective Bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) improves survival and neurological outcomes. Nonetheless, many OHCA patients do not receive bystander CPR during a witnessed arrest. Our aim was to identify potential barriers to bystander CPR.

Methods Participants at CPR training events conducted in the USA between February and May 2018 answered a 14-question survey prior to training. Respondents were asked about their overall comfort level performing CPR, and about potential concerns specific to performing CPR on a middle-aged female, a geriatric male, and male and female adolescent patients. Open-ended responses were analysed qualitatively by categorising responses into themes.

Results Of the 677 participants, 582 (86.0%) completed the survey, with 509 (88.1%) between 18 and 29 years of age, 341 (58.6%) without prior CPR training and 556 (96.0%) without prior CPR experience. Across all four scenarios of patients in cardiac arrest, less than 65% of respondents reported that they would be ‘Extremely Likely’ (20.6%–29.1%) or ‘Moderately Likely’ (26.9%–34.8%) to initiate CPR. The leading concerns were ‘causing injury to patient’ for geriatric (n=193, 63.1%), female (n=51, 20.5%) and adolescent (n=148, 50.9%) patients. Lack of appropriate skills was the second leading concern when the victim was a geriatric (n=41, 13.4%) or adolescent (n=68, 23.4%) patient, whereas for female patients, 35 (14.1%) were concerned about exposing the patient or the patient’s breasts interfering with performance of CPR and 15 (6.0%) were concerned about being accused of sexual assault. Significant differences were observed in race, ethnicity and age regarding the likelihood of starting to perform CPR on female and adolescent patients.

Conclusions Participants at CPR training events have multiple concerns and fears related to performing bystander CPR. Causing additional harm and lack of skills were among the leading reservations reported. These findings should be considered for improved CPR training and public education.

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest
  • Social Perception
  • Heart Arrest
  • Rescue Work

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  • TKB and SSG contributed equally.

  • Contributors All authors derived the methods and implemented the surveys. TKB, SSG and SAC drafted the manuscript. SC and JB-L analysed the data. All authors have read, edited and approved the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved as exempt research by the University of Florida Institutional Review Board (IRB201800410) with a waiver of informed consent.

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

  • Correction notice Since this paper was first published online, the author name Carlos L Alviar-Restrepo has been updated to Carlos L Alvair.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.