Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation: Knowledge and Opinions Among the U.S. General Public: State of the Science-Fiction

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Background and objective

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is undertaken more than 250,000 times annually in the United States. This study was undertaken to determine knowledge and opinions of the general public regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation.


Validated multisite community-based cross-sectional survey.

Outcome measures

Knowledge and opinions about resuscitative practices and outcomes, using hypothetical clinical scenarios and other social, spiritual, and environmental considerations.


Among 1831 participants representing 38 states, markedly inaccurate perceptions of cardiac arrest were reported. Participants’ mean estimate of predicted survival rate after cardiac arrest was 54% (median 50%, IQR 35–75%), and mean estimated duration of resuscitative efforts in the ED was 28 min (median 15 min; IQR 10–30). Projected age and health status were independent predictors of resuscitation preferences in a series of 4 hypothetical scenarios. Participants indicated that physicians should consider patient and family wishes as the most important factors when making resuscitation decisions. Participants considered advanced technology and physician communication to be the most important actions during attempted resuscitation.


Inaccurate perceptions regarding resuscitation and survival rates exist among the lay public. Participants indicated strong preferences regarding resuscitation and advance directives.


A corrigendum to this article has been published at



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