ASHI and MEDIC First Aid Blog
Bystanders are the key to survival during a 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 help 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.
So, what gives? 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 OUTCOMES FOR WOMEN
This research and understanding of fears can be used to better improve cardiac arrest outcomes for women.
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 perceptions that exist, so we must counter them with real data, information and training.