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Witnessed cardiopulmonary resuscitation: the public's perception

  • 1
Critical Care20048 (Suppl 1) :P296

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  • Public Health
  • Health Status
  • Healthy Individual
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Healthcare Provider


To develop an understanding of the public's attitude concerning witnessed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).


A random telephone survey gathered demographic information about 408 respondents who rated their level of agreement to questions concerning witnessed CPR using a five-point scale.


The respondents ranked their level of agreement in the manner presented in Table 1. Age, level of education, income level, perceived health status, and end-of-life planning did not correlate with the responses. Married and widowed respondents, in contradistinction to others, believe that witnessed CPR would benefit the patient (P = 0.023). Respondents desiring CPR were more prone to believe that significant others should be allowed during CPR as opposed to those not desiring CPR (P = 0.005). They are more apt to want others present with them while undergoing CPR than those declining CPR (P = 0.002). They also felt more strongly that the presence of significant others during CPR would benefit the patient (P = 0.018) and family or friends(P = 0.022). The desire be present in the room with a loved during CPR did not reach statistical significance (P = 0.078) between the two groups.

Table 1

"I believe family members or friends have the right to be present in the room while a loved one is undergoing CPR"

36.5% (n = 149) strongly agree, 10.3% (n = 42) agree, 22.4% (n = 90) neither agree nor disagree, 98.8% (n = 37) disagree and 20.6% (n = 84) strongly disagree with this statement. Five respondents answered "I don't know"

"I would want to be in the room with a loved one during CPR"

37.3% (n = 152) strongly agree, 12.0% (n = 49) agree, 12.3% (n = 50) neither agree nor disagree, 8.8% (n = 36) disagree, 28.2% (n = 115) strongly disagree with this statement, and 1.2% (n = 5) don't know

"I would want family/friends with me if I were undergoing CPR"

29.9% (n = 122) strongly agree, 12.3% (n = 50) agree, 17.2% (n = 70) neither agree nor disagree, 8.6% (n = 35) disagree, 29.4% (n = 120) strongly disagree with this statement, and 2.5% (10) don't know

"The presence of family/friends during CPR would benefit the patient"

24.3% (n = 99) strongly agree, 14.2% (n = 58) agree, 19.9% (n = 81) neither agree nor disagree, 13.75% (n = 56) disagree 22.3% (n = 91) strongly disagree with this statement, and 5.4% (n = 22) don't know

"The presence of family/friends during CPR would benefit the family/friends"

23.8% (n = 97) strongly agree, 13.5% (n = 55) agree, 23.5% (n = 96) neither agree nor disagree, 12.5% (n = 51) disagree, 24.9% (n = 99) strongly disagree with this statement, and 2.2% (n = 9) don't know


A large segment of the public desires witnessed CPR, and believes it to be beneficial. Age, level of education, income level, and end-of-life planning do not appear to influence these beliefs. Married and widowed respondents were more apt to consider witnessed resuscitation of benefit to the patient. People desiring CPR are more likely to have positive feeling about witnessed CPR. Those in poor health, not desiring CPR, are more pessimistic about witnessed resuscitation. Although healthcare providers have mixed sentiments, it would be wise to develop protocols to accommodate those who wish to remain together during CPR. Healthier individuals, married people and their families, and those widowed will be more demanding in this matter. The more infirm, not desirous of CPR, will be less demanding and less inclined to avail themselves of such formal programs.

Authors’ Affiliations

Conemaugh Valley Memorial Hospital, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA


© BioMed Central Ltd. 2004