Background: Currently the American Red Cross requires that individuals renew their cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification annually; this often requires a 4- to 8-hour refresher course. Those trained in CPR often show a decrease in essential knowledge and skills within just a few months after training. New electronic means of communication have expanded the possibilities for delivering CPR refreshers to members of the general public who receive CPR training. The study's purpose was to determine the efficacy of three novel CPR refreshers--online website, e-mail and text messaging--for improving three outcomes of CPR training--skill retention, confidence for using CPR and intention to use CPR. These three refreshers may be considered "novel" in that they are not typically used to refresh CPR knowledge and skills.
Methods: The study conducted two randomized clinical trials of the novel CPR refreshers. A mailed brochure was a traditional, passive refresher format and served as the control condition. In Trial 1, the refreshers were delivered in a single episode at 6 months after initial CPR training. In Trial 2, the refreshers were delivered twice, at 6 and 9 months after initial CPR training, to test the effect of a repeated delivery. Outcomes for the three novel refreshers vs. the mailed brochure were determined at 12 months after initial CPR training.
Results: Assignment to any of three novel refreshers did not improve outcomes of CPR training one year later in comparison with receiving a mailed brochure. Comparing outcomes for subjects who actually reviewed some of the novel refreshers vs. those who did not indicated a significant positive effect for one outcome, confidence for performing CPR. The website refresher was associated with increased behavioral intent to perform CPR. Stated satisfaction with the refreshers was relatively high. The number of episodes of refreshers (one vs. two) did not have a significant effect on any outcomes.
Conclusions: There was no consistent evidence for the superiority of novel refreshers as compared with a traditional mailed brochure, but the low degree of actual exposure to the materials does not allow a definitive conclusion. An online web-based approach seems to have the most promise for future research on electronic CPR refreshers.