Background: Bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) improves survival and neurological outcomes. Unfortunately many OHCA victims do not receive bystander CPR during a witnessed arrest. It is known that gender disparities play a role with lower rates of bystander CPR in women suffering OHCA in public places. Our aim was to identify potential factors influencing the decision to perform bystander CPR.
Methods: Participants at CPR training events were surveyed prior to training. Using different scenarios, subjects were asked about their comfort level performing CPR on female, geriatric, and pediatric victims. Anonymous responses were collected and transformed into categorical variables by a psychometrist.
Results: Of the 677 participants approached, 585 (86.4%) responded the survey, with 87.5% between 18-29 years of age, 58.8% without prior CPR training and 93.3% without prior CPR experience. Reasons to hesitate starting bystander CPR in women included concern about exposing the victim (12.9%), being accused of sexual assault (6.1%), and possible pregnancy (6.5%). In participants with prior CPR training, 61.1% reported concerns about performing CPR on women, with 18.9% having concerns about performing chest compressions in relation to breast location. In participants without prior CPR training, 73.2% reported having concerns about performing CPR on women. Causing injury and exposing the patient were top concerns to perform CPR in women amongst participants who were uncomfortable (30.5% and 17.5% respectively) and comfortable (14.5% and 9.8% respectively) performing CPR in public. Causing injury was the top concern in performing CPR on geriatric (45.4%) and pediatric patients (41.7%), followed by fragility (18.1% and 10.2% respectively). Lack of skills to perform CPR on children was reported in 22% of CPR-trained participants.
Conclusion: Public perception of OHCA victims influences willingness to perform bystander CPR. Factors such as age, gender, fear of injury, pregnancy status and sexual assault concerns can negatively impact this lifesaving intervention. Awareness of the importance of bystander CPR on any cardiac arrest victim must be improved.