[Skip to Navigation]
January 1989

Can Family Members of High-Risk Cardiac Patients Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation?

Author Affiliations

From the School of Nursing (Dr Dracup and Mss Heaney and Breu), the Department of Psychology (Dr Taylor), and the School of Medicine (Dr Guzy), UCLA.

Arch Intern Med. 1989;149(1):61-64. doi:10.1001/archinte.1989.00390010079008

• The immediate delivery of bystander-administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), coupled with the rapid delivery of advanced cardiac life support, can significantly reduce mortality from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Because the majority of sudden cardiac deaths occur in the victim's home with family members present, family members of cardiac patients at high risk for sudden death are the logical focus of CPR training. However, previous research has shown that only a small minority of family members of cardiac patients actually learn CPR and that health care professionals have failed to recommend CPR training in this population, in part due to concerns about their ability to learn CPR. The purpose of this study was to describe learning capabilities in this population and to identify characteristics of unsuccessful learners. To this end, we taught CPR to 83 family members of cardiac patients who were at risk for sudden cardiac death. Subjects had no CPR training within the past two years. Eighty-one percent of the subjects successfully learned CPR. Of the demographic and psychological characteristics examined, only gender, age, and depression were significant in explaining differences in CPR skills attainment ability. The elderly, the depressed, and males were more likely to be unsuccessful in demonstrating adequate CPR skills. Our results suggest that the majority of family members of cardiac patients can learn CPR successfully. Specific training strategies may need to be developed and tested to enhance CPR training in those family members of cardiac patients predicted to have difficulty learning CPR.

(Arch Intern Med 1989;149:61-64)

Add or change institution