Introduction: Survival from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) outside hospitals depends largely on immediate bystander intervention. We measured the impact a layperson-friendly definition of SCA has on increasing perceived importance of CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator) skills and the likelihood to act, plus messages that drive action.
Hypothesis: Low public awareness of SCA contributes to low survival rates; a layperson-friendly definition of SCA could improve perceived importance of CPR/AED training and likelihood to act in emergencies; identifying messages that motivate action could help reveal an effective communications strategy.
Methods: We conducted a quantitative/qualitative study with an online survey of a representative national sample of adults (n=2,232) and in-depth interviews (n=20). Online respondents were exposed to framing questions, then split into two matched panels. One panel was exposed to a layperson-friendly definition of SCA (n=1,128); the other was exposed to 11 discrete messages (n=1,104). Questions pre- and post-exposure to the definition measured lift in importance to learn skills and likelihood to give CPR/use an AED. Messages were tested on relative strength in motivating action and grabbing attention.
Results: The public is confused/unfamiliar with SCA and the need for immediate intervention. Barriers to bystander intervention include lack of confidence (39%), concerns about hurting the victim (38%), belief another is more competent (37%), and liability (28%); notably, 18% of respondents indicate no barriers (n=2,232). A friendly definition of SCA increases the belief that learning CPR/AED skills is “extremely important.” Those “very likely” to give CPR/use AED jump 26% and 38% respectively (n=1,128). Including “sudden” in the definition proves important, conveying urgency. The messages that drive motivation to act and grab attention address doubling or tripling the chance of survival and saving the life of a loved one.