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CPR Training Can Boost Community Engagement

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, November 20, 2013

Imparting lifesaving knowledge throughout a population can help community members form bonds of trust with healthcare professionals. It can also enable population health advocates to generate community interest in other proactive healthy lifestyle choices.

First, the bad news: A study this week in JAMA Internal Medicine from researchers at Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, NC, shows that cardiopulmonary resuscitation training rates are low in rural and poorer counties, and in areas with higher minority populations, particularly in the South, Midwest and West.

Each year, the Duke study notes, more than 350,000 people suffer cardiac arrest outside of hospital walls and less than 9% of them survive, an average that fluctuates considerably with geography. That is because the rates of bystanders performing CPR vary from 10% to 64% depending on where they live.

It seems logical to presume that if survival rates more than double when bystanders administer CPR, then the best way to get them to perform CPR is to train them in this relatively simple procedure.

In a first-of-its-kind study, Duke cardiologist Monique L. Anderson, MD, and fellow researchers analyzed a year's worth of CPR training data from the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, and the Health & Safety Institute for 13.1 million people living in 3,143 counties, with a median county training rate of just under 2.4%, which again, fluctuates considerably from county to county.

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