Objective: To determine whether televised public service announcements (PSAs) demonstrating the fundamentals of CPR were effective in increasing the rate of layperson bystander-initiated CPR.
Methods: Two 30-second PSAs were shown 597 times from September 8, 1996, through April 12, 1997. In each, CPR was given to one member of an older couple by the other in the home. The authors measured rates of bystander CPR in communities that were exposed to the PSA and in communities that were not exposed in two time periods, a before-airing period, January 1, 1993, through September 7, 1996, and a during-airing period, September 8, 1996, through April 12, 1997. A case was defined as a patient with a nontraumatic cardiac arrest that occurred before arrival of EMS personnel, and for whom CPR was initiated by EMS personnel or lay bystanders.
Results: There were 1,786 cardiac arrests in the "before" period and 289 in the "during" period. The rate of bystander CPR increased from 43% to 55% (p<0.05) in the intervention community and remained the same in the comparison community (33%).
Conclusion: Airing of the PSA was accompanied by an increase in the rate of bystander CPR, though the increase may be attributable to a secular trend.