Background: The American Heart Association 2005 Guidelines recommend immediate defibrillation for ventricular fibrillation (VF) of short duration, such as witnessed sudden cardiac arrest. However, it is unclear if public-access automated external defibrillators (AEDs) would actually be used in Japan, because there have been few studies about public attitudes regarding AED use. Therefore, we examined Japanese attitudes toward AED use.
Methods and results: Between February and March 2006, 3328 individuals, including high school students, teachers, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), medical nurses, and medical students, were asked about AED knowledge and their willingness to operate an AED. All EMTs, 86% of nurses, and 90% of medical students knew how to use AEDs, while only 15% of high school students and 44% of teachers had such knowledge. All EMTs, 78% of nurses, and 94% of medical students reported they would 'definitely' use the AED, but only 12% of high school students and 35% of teachers gave this reply. The reasons for unwillingness to operate AEDs among both laypeople and health care providers were poor of awareness of what AED is and/or how to use an AED. However, 83% of students and 81% of teachers with AED knowledge reported they would 'definitely' use the AED.
Conclusions: Many non-medical people in Japan would be unwilling to operate an AED, because they do not know what AED is and/or how to use an AED. However, many would be willing to operate AEDs if they had better understanding of AEDs. Thus, it is necessary to improve public knowledge of AEDs and AED use.