The impact of television fiction on public expectations of survival following inhospital cardiopulmonary resuscitation by medical professionals

Eur J Emerg Med. 2002 Dec;9(4):325-9. doi: 10.1097/00063110-200212000-00006.


Rationale: Research has shown that the public overestimates the survival chances of patients after cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Other studies have suggested that demonstrably exaggerated survival rates in medical television fiction might affect these estimates. Such studies were mostly conducted in the United States, dealt with cardiopulmonary resuscitation in general, and asked respondents to indicate their source of medical information, an unreliable survey technique.

Objective: To examine whether public perceptions of survival after inhospital cardiopulmonary resuscitation by physicians and nurses is related to the consumption of medical drama, without relying on respondents' self-reports of what influences them. To examine whether training in basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques mediates this relationship.

Methods: A random sample of 820 third and fifth year secondary school students completed a questionnaire in which they indicated their consumption of medical television fiction, their practical knowledge of cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques, and their estimates of the survival rate after inhospital cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Results: A relationship was found between the consumption of medical television drama and higher estimates of cardiopulmonary resuscitation survival. Practical knowledge of cardiopulmonary resuscitation also resulted in increased estimated survival rates. An interaction effect of drama and practical knowledge was found. Respondents with practical knowledge were less affected by television.

Conclusions: The consumption of medical television drama is related to overestimating survival chances after inhospital resuscitation by physicians and nurses following cardiopulmonary arrest. A practical knowledge of basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques moderates but does not eliminate the television effect.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Belgium
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation*
  • Educational Status
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survival Rate*
  • Television*