Newly published study finds Half of Scots “not confident” in giving CPR

07 Mar 2018

Half of the Scottish adult population do not feel confident administering CPR – and more than a fifth do not know when it is required, according to a collaborative study involving the RRG and the University of Stirling.

The study, which has been welcomed by the Scottish Government, is the first to examine the readiness and willingness of Scots to carry out cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Experts believe the work could help to explain why our survival rates from cardiac arrest are poor when compared to other countries.

Fiona Dobbie, a Research Fellow at the Institute of Social Marketing, part of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, led the work, which also involved the Resuscitation Research Group at the University of Edinburgh and the Scottish Government.

“The findings of our study will help develop policy and future interventions to improve the rate of bystander CPR,” Ms Dobbie said. “From a policy perspective, there is a need for more tailored and targeted interventions to encourage CPR training, which has been linked with improving confidence in CPR. As confidence increases, so does the likelihood of providing emergency aid in an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

“Our findings suggest that priority groups are people who are not working, in a lower social grade and the elderly.”

In 2015, Scotland’s Strategy for Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest was launched with the aim of equipping 500,000 people with CPR skills in a bid to save an additional 300 lives per year following an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

The new study, which informs the Strategy, comprised an Ipsos MORI survey, which canvassed 1,027 adults in Scotland.

Fifty per cent said they would not feel confident administering bystander CPR, with a further 21 per cent admitting that they would not know if it was required.

Twenty-two per cent would not be comfortable giving CPR, for fear of causing an injury to the victim, while 19 per cent would be reluctant due to their lack of skills. The same proportion would be put off by visible vomit or blood and 16 per cent by indications that the ill person is a drug user, the poll found.

The team found that confidence was affected by age, social grade and employment status; the older the person was, the less likely they were trained in CPR, show willingness to be trained, or feel confident to administer CPR. Fifty-eight per cent of 35 to 44 year olds said that they would like to be trained in CPR, compared to just 37 per cent of 55 to 64 year olds and 23 per cent of those aged 65 and over.

Respondents with professional, managerial and non-manual occupations were more likely to have been trained in CPR than those in manual, unskilled occupations and the long-term unemployed.

Dr Gareth Clegg, a Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, an Honorary Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, and an Associate Medical Director, of the Scottish Ambulance Service, co-authored the paper.

He said: “Survival from cardiac arrest in Scotland is a poor relative to the best performing centres in the world. One of the most important determinants of survival is bystander CPR, which more than doubles chances of survival.

“We already know that people in the most deprived areas in Scotland are much more likely to have a cardiac arrest, at a younger age, and less likely to survive than those in affluent areas.

“This work is important because it suggests that those living in communities which are most likely to need CPR are least ready to carry it out.”

Dr Clegg added: “Using the findings from this research, we hope to develop ways to teach hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland how to perform CPR – and save hundreds more lives each year.”

Minister for Public Health Aileen Campbell said: “That half of adults in Scotland in this survey were already confident giving CPR gives us a firm foundation to build on, and to date more than 200,000 people across the country have learned CPR since 2015.

“This is great progress towards our 500,000 target by 2020 and a testimony to the work put in by our Save A Life For Scotland partnership, who have brought these lifesaving skills to more people across the country.

“Any CPR is better than no CPR and we know it’s the main way we can increase survival after Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest.”

The study, Attitudes towards bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation: results from a cross-sectional general population survey, was commissioned by the Resuscitation Research Group at the University of Edinburgh and is published in PLOS ONE.

The Prior Hypothesis at the first Edinburgh Conversation

29 Nov 2017

On Friday 17th November, the Resuscitation Research Group held the first of the new series of Edinburgh Conversations.

The theme of the Conversation was the ‘Prior Hypothesis’. Experts met to discuss the effects of capillary pore size, pulse waves and osmotic pressure on fluid exchange, with a view to thinking about implications for future research and clinical practice.

It was the opportunity to release the initials results of the Prior Study, which was led by Allan MacRaild, Senior Research Nurse in EMERGE.

Dr Frank Prior was joined by Dr Colin Robertson, Dr Gordon Drummond, Mr Peter Jones, Mr Allan MacRaild and Dr Gareth Clegg. Discussions from the event will help strengthen the hypothesis and uncover unexplored areas.

The Prior Hypothesis – an update to the Starling Hypothesis – offers a new model of fluid balance and exchange.

Fluid balance and exchange are driven by the balance of two opposing pressures, the blood pressure which filters fluid out of the capillary and the osmotic pressure which draws fluid back into the plasma. Our physico chemical studies show that osmotic pressure is dependent on both concentration and membrane pore size. Increasing the concentration increases the osmotic pressure. Increasing pore size causes a fall in osmotic pressure. These three major factors determine osmosis. A knowledge of two of them should enable the third to be calculated. To test this concept we have measured membrane osmotic pressures (MOPx) and calculated capillary pore sizes during lying and standing, temperature stress, arm occlusion and simulated dives in human volunteers. We have also calculated pore size during anaesthetic induction, throughout Major GI surgery, and during pulsatile and non pulsatile cardiac bypass.


These results are included in our book entitled The Prior Hypothesis, which is in the final proof reading phase.

Holyrood Magazine hosts a round table exercise to discuss OHCA

09 Oct 2017

In October 2017 the Holyrood magazine hosted a British Heart Foundation sponsored round table event  gathering policy makers and experts to discuss OHCA.

The meeting was a great chance to air some of the most important issues relevant to OHCA in Scotland today. The resulting article published in the Holyrood Magazine can be downloaded here: Holyrood Magazine October 2017 pp42-45.


OHCA Data Linkage Report produced by RRG

29 Aug 2017

Solving the problem of OHCA is difficult, but in broad terms it is not complicated. There is a high level of international consensus about the steps required. The first of these is to create a registry. To build a mechanism to measure current system performance, identify areas for improvement and track progress. This is not a straightforward process, as the system delivering care to victims of OHCA spans multiple agencies and so assembling meaningful data requires the synthesis of information from a range of ‘silos’.

This report, produced by the Resuscitation Research Group and published by the Scottish Government illustrates how the unique health data architecture in Scotland allows data from a range of discrete sources to be linked, enabling a powerful perspective on OHCA.

A copy of the report can be found here.


Minister for Public Health, Aileen Campbell, launched OHCA review on a visit to Beeslack High School in Penicuik

24 Nov 2016

[You can download a copy of the report at]

More than a dozen organisations including emergency services, defence, third sector and Scottish Government have come together in an unprecedented collaboration to save lives in Scotland.

Scotland’s five-year strategy for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest aims to save 1,000 extra lives by 2020 and equip an additional half a million people in Scotland with CPR skills.

A Scottish Government report published today reviews progress in the first year of Scotland’s Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Strategy including the news that over 60,000 people have been trained in CPR skills since the strategy launched in October 2015.

Minister for Public Health, Aileen Campbell, launched the review on a visit to Beeslack High School in Penicuik, where she joined P7 and S1 pupils in a CPR training session.

Ms Campbell said: “Each year in Scotland there are around 3,000 cardiac arrests out-of-hospital. Cardiac arrest is when a person’s heart completely stops and, if this happens, CPR must be administered within minutes or the person will likely die.

“That is why CPR training and education is so vitally important.

“Indeed we know that over three-quarters of people believe that everyone should be trained in CPR, although only half of people have had the training.

“Our strategy aims to equip as many people as possible with these life-saving skills as well as looking at how our healthcare and emergency services can support a rapid and effective response to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

“Over the last year some very promising progress has been made. This is thanks, in no small part, to the great efforts of all of our partners involved in this work.

“We are now looking to build on these solid foundations going into next year, with a focus in 2017 on raising awareness amongst young people about the importance of CPR.”

The report, Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest – A Strategy for Scotland Review 2015-16, details a series of key results achieved in the strategy’s first year as well as setting out the priorities for 2017.

The key achievements include:

  • The establishment of Save a Life for Scotland as the banner under which all partner organisations are raising awareness of CPR activity and signposting to, and delivering training activities.
  • The training of over 60,000 people in CPR skills since the strategy launched in October 2015.
  • The British Heart Foundation supplied ‘Call-Push-Rescue’ training kits to all 356 Scottish Fire and Rescue stations, which local communities can access.
  • In November 2015, the Scottish Ambulance Service and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service began trialling a co-response system for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest at ten stations. Initial evidence suggests that this has contributed to a reduction in response times and improved patient outcomes.
  • Numerous CPR training events held in schools, shopping malls and at major events like the Royal Highland Show and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.