Offering the opportunity for family to be present during cardiopulmonary resuscitation: 1-year assessment

Intensive Care Med. 2014 Jul;40(7):981-7. doi: 10.1007/s00134-014-3337-1. Epub 2014 May 23.


Purpose: To evaluate the psychological consequences among family members given the option to be present during the CPR of a relative, compared with those not routinely offered the option.

Methods: Prospective, cluster-randomized, controlled trial involving 15 prehospital emergency medical services units in France, comparing systematic offer for a relative to witness CPR with the traditional practice among 570 family members. Main outcome measure was 1-year assessment included proportion suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression symptoms, and/or complicated grief.

Results: Among the 570 family members [intention to treat (ITT) population], 408 (72%) were evaluated at 1 year. In the ITT population (N = 570), family members had PTSD-related symptoms significantly more frequently in the control group than in the intervention group [adjusted odds ratio, 1.8; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1-3.0; P = 0.02] as did family members to whom physicians did not propose witnessing CPR [adjusted odds ratio, 1.7; 95% CI 1.1-2.6; P = 0.02]. In the observed cases population (N = 408), the proportion of family members experiencing a major depressive episode was significantly higher in the control group (31 vs. 23%; P = 0.02) and among family members to whom physicians did not propose the opportunity to witness CPR (31 vs. 24%; P = 0.03). The presence of complicated grief was significantly greater in the control group (36 vs. 21%; P = 0.005) and among family members to whom physicians did not propose the opportunity to witness resuscitation (37 vs. 23%; P = 0.003).

Conclusions: At 1 year after the event, psychological benefits persist for those family members offered the possibility to witness the CPR of a relative in cardiac arrest.

Trial registration: NCT01009606.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / psychology*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Family / psychology*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • France / epidemiology
  • Grief
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Intention to Treat Analysis*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology

Associated data