Family member presence during cardiopulmonary resuscitation: a survey of US and international critical care professionals

Chest. 2002 Dec;122(6):2204-11. doi: 10.1378/chest.122.6.2204.


Objective: Recent international emergency cardiovascular care (ECC) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) guidelines have recommended that health-care professionals allow family members to be present during resuscitation attempts. To assess whether critical care professionals support these recommendations, we surveyed health-care professionals for their opinions regarding family-witnessed resuscitation (FWR).

Methods: We surveyed health-care professionals attending the International Meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians in San Francisco, CA, from October 23 to 26, 2000, about their CPR experience, their opinions on FWR, and demographic characteristics. The opinions of physicians, nurses, and other allied health professionals were compared, and differences in opinions based on demographics were examined.

Results: Five hundred ninety-two professionals were surveyed. Fewer physicians (20%) than nurses and allied health-care workers combined (39%) would allow family member presence during adult CPR (p = 0.0037 [chi(2) test]). Fourteen percent of physicians and 17% of nurses would allow a family presence during pediatric CPR. There was a significant difference among the opinions of US professionals, based on regional location. Professionals practicing in the northeastern states were less likely than other US professionals to allow FWR during adult or pediatric resuscitations (p = 0.016 and p < 0.001, respectively [chi(2) test]). Midwestern professionals were more likely than others to allow family members to be present during an adult resuscitation, when compared to professional in the rest of the nation (p = 0.002 [chi(2) test]). Health-care professionals disapproving of family member presence during CPR did so because of the fear of psychological trauma to family members, performance anxiety affecting the CPR team, medicolegal concerns, and a fear of distraction to the resuscitation team.

Conclusions: Our evaluation indicated that the majority of critical care professionals surveyed do not support the current recommendations provided by the ECC and CPR guidelines of 2000.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation*
  • Child
  • Family* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • United States