Bystanders are the key to survival during a sudden cardiac arrest emergency. The sooner someone receives CPR and AED intervention, the more likely they are to survive. Unfortunately, women are less likely to receive bystander CPR during a cardiac arrest emergency.
Why are women less likely to receive CPR?
According to a study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, 45% of men received bystander CPR compared to only 39% of women. Overall, men had 23% higher odds of survival than women.
However, these gender disparity findings only held true when the incident took place in a public setting, not in a home environment where lay responders are more likely to be family members. This is why bystander CPR training and awareness is so important.
So, why are gender disparities happening in emergency situations? Why are women less likely to receive CPR when it’s needed in public?
A follow-up disparities study was conducted to help answer this question. Here were the primary themes for why the public perceives women are less likely to receive bystander CPR:
Sexualization of women’s bodies
Women are weak and frail and therefore prone to injury
Misperceptions about women in acute medical distress
These themes translate to fears related to inappropriate touching, accusations of sexual assault and causing physical injury.
Ways to improve Cardiac Arrest outcomes for women
This research and understanding of fears can be used to better improve cardiac arrest outcomes for women by changing public perceptions.
We can start by:
Acknowledging this bias exists. When people KNOW better, they DO better.
Creating dialogue within the classroom and as a broader message. We understand the public perceptions that exist, so we must counter them with real data, information and training.
Updating training equipment to reflect different bodies. The goal is to eliminate hesitation by making training as realistic as possible. One way to do this is with the new Prestan Female Accessory. It mimics female breasts with multiple skin tones available and is designed to securely fit your existing Prestan manikin.
By raising awareness of bystander CPR and talking about issues surrounding gender disparities when responding to a sudden cardiac arrest emergency, we can work together to make our communities safer for all.