Thirty-Minute CPR Course as Effective as a Three-Hour One

DALLAS -- A 30-minute, video-based cardiopulmonary resuscitation course (CPR) is as effective as a traditional 3-hour course, with possibly better retention at six months, researchers here found.

DALLAS, July 27 -- A 30-minute, video-based cardiopulmonary resuscitation course (CPR) is as effective as a traditional 3-hour course, with possibly better retention at six months, researchers found.

A comparison of the short course with longer versions of CPR training was conducted by a team at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, here, and reported in the August issue of Resuscitation.

Ahamed Idris, M.D., and colleagues randomized 294 volunteers to one of the two training programs; 270 completed the training-151 took the short course, adopted recently by the American Heart Association, and 119 took the longer one. Volunteers were all employees of American Airlines and CPR training sessions took place at corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, Tex.

The short course consisted of a 23-minute CPR video, a three-minute discussion on recognition of choking and demonstration of the Heimlich maneuver, and a five-minute demonstration on the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Students each received an inflatable mini-manikin to use during training, a device that provides real-time audio feedback on the depth and rate of chest compressions, knee pads, and alcohol wipes.

In the traditional course didactic lectures on CPR, rescue maneuvers for choking, and AED use are supplemented by videos. Students share full-size manikins, which cuts the amount of hands-on training they received, the researchers noted.

With the short course, "individuals practice while they learn, allowing more time to perform and retain the critical hands-on skills required to provide more effective CPR," said Dr. Lynn Roppolo, assistant professor of emergency medicine and lead author of the study.

Skills evaluation was accomplished by having the student demonstrate CPR and AED use on a life-size manikin. They were videotaped and the manikin recorded compressions/ventilations. The videotapes were evaluated by reviewers blinded as to which of the courses the subjects took.

After evaluation, the researchers found no significant difference between the two groups in ability to provide the correct depth and rate of compressions, the amount of air delivered during ventilations, or other measures of competence.

However, at six months follow-up, more of the students in the short course called 911 appropriately, conducted a more rapid assessment of the victim, began CPR more rapidly, and were more likely to provide adequate ventilations compared with those enrolled in the longer training course.

Both groups took one-third less time (P=0.09) to assess for signs of life at six months than they had at the initial training.

Slightly more students of the short-course used the AED correctly than students of the longer course immediately after course completion.

However, at six-month follow-up, nearly all of those who took the short course could still use the AED correctly compared with only about half of those who took the traditional course.

Dr. Idris said that the findings of AED skills retention at six months were somewhat surprising, as there has been some reluctance to trust laypersons with the technology.

"People only need to remember three things [when using the AED: recognize that there's a problem, open the AED box, and follow the prompts.] This may lower the barrier for people getting involved [with learning CPR]," Dr. Idris commented.