Epidemiology and outcome of cardiac arrests reported in the lay-press: An observational study

Richard A. Field*, Jasmeet Soar, Jerry P. Nolan, Gavin D. Perkins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Objective The aims of this study were to evaluate the frequency with which cardiac arrests are reported in newspapers, assess the level of detail reported and ascertain whether this coverage gives a realistic portrayal of cardiac arrest outcomes to the lay-reader. Design Observational study. Setting All UK newspaper articles published between 1 January 2010 and 30 June 2010. Participants Articles containing the words 'cardiac arrest', 'CPR' or 'resuscitation' were screen for eligibility. Any articles not involving reference to a real cardiac arrest were excluded. Main outcome measures Data relating to patient demographics, arrest characteristics, treatment (CPR and defibrillation) and survival using the Utstein template were extracted. The results were then compared with cardiac arrest statistics from epidemiological studies. Results Six hundred and forty-eight articles were reviewed, 203 of which referred to individual cardiac arrest events; 22 events occurred inhospital and 181 occurred out-of-hospital. In the out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) group 32 (17.7%) were reported to survive to hospital discharge, almost all with good neurological outcome. The median age group was 31-45-year-olds, 52 (28.7%) were women and 40 were children. Seventy-five percent of victims received bystander CPR with 13 being attended to by lay-responders using AEDs, eight of which presented with a shockable rhythm of which six made a full recovery. Conclusion Survival to hospital discharge rate among newspaper reports was double that of complete epidemiological studies of OHCAs in urban environments. Newspapers may give readers an over-optimistic portrayal of cardiac arrest survival and neurological outcome following successful resuscitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-531
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Royal Society of Medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Resuscitation Council UK

Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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