Student perceptions of sudden cardiac arrest: a qualitative inquiry

Br J Nurs. 2012 May;21(9):523-7. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2012.21.9.523.


Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is the number one cause of death in young athletes in high school and university settings. Survival and outcomes of SCA is dependent on appropriate recognition of symptoms and immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), along with a shock from an automatic external defibrillator (AED). The three aims of the authors' study presented in this article were: to describe university students' perceptions and beliefs about sudden cardiac arrest, to describe university students' understanding of an AED and their level of preparedness to recognize and respond to a life threatening emergency event, and to identify university students' experiences of responding to handling life-threatening emergency events. Qualitative methodology was employed using semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis. Three major themes emerged from data analysis: confusion, uncertainty, and fear/uncomfortableness. These themes characterised participant's perceptions about SCA. The authors concluded that a lack of understanding of what SCA is and participants' inability to respond to an emergency event was evident.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac*
  • Defibrillators
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Students / psychology*
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult