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No more mouth to mouth


4 Star

No more mouth to mouth

Our Review Summary

This television segment about new American Heart Association guidelines recommending compression-only CPR for observed adult cardiac arrest explains the new recommendations plainly. It also provides the essential caveats–which populations and circumstances for which the compression-only technique should not be used.

Ways the report could have been improved:

  • It could have clarified that chest-only is recommended for most uses–but that people adequately trained and confident with traditional CPR should use that technique
  • It could have indicated that the technique has been recommended as an option for three years, and has been considered for more than a decade.
  • It could have reported how low the survival rate is for adults with observed cardiac arrest–not to discourage the attempt, but so people know that survival is not a very common outcome regardless.
  • It could have explained that the evidence came from observational studies (for understandable reasons), not from randomized clinical trials (the gold standard).

This segment also illustrates an important point about uses of different journalistic media. By demonstrating that the news anchor is quickly able to apply the technique, the segment makes clear both how it’s done and how easy it is to do. 

Producers should note that while television makes some kinds of health reporting more difficult–stories that require interpretation of statistics, for example–its strengths should be taken advantage of whenever possible.

A final related point: A broadcast television health news report should include a note that more information is available on a related website.  This was a missed opportunity in this segment. 


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Cost is not associated with this treatment.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The segment fails to report the percentage of the targeted population that survives witnessed sudden cardiac arrest with either of the methods of CPR.

In none of the studies, using various outcome measures, does survival exceed 20 percent. Viewers should know this.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


The American Heart Assocation recommendations and the Circulation report provide contraindications for compression-only CPR, which the segment properly notes.

The report and recommendations cite no other risks of compression-only CPR. The published study cites the possibility that some unidentified subgroup of patients may benefit from traditional CPR, but says no research has demonstrated this.

Rib fractures are a potential harm, and the story could have mentioned this. Nonetheless, we’ll give the story the benefit of the doubt on this criterion.  

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention the quality of the evidence.  The story simply says "Studies have shown the survival rate between these two methods is about the same" without mentioning the strength of the evidence (observational studies and not randomized trials).The report is based on new American Heart Association guidelines about compression-only CPR, which in turn are based on an analysis of recent research published in the AHA medical journal Circulation. The story could have at least referred viewers to a CBS or AHA website for more information about the evidence. 


Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The segment does nothing to exaggerate the frequency or severity of sudden cardiac arrest.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The medical correspondent cites no sources aside from the AHA recommendations. At least one independent expert should have been consulted.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The segment makes clear that the two treatment options for observed adult cardiac arrest are conventional CPR and compression-only CPR.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


Hands-only CPR is implictly available anywhere.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


By mentioning that previous research has found the technique as effective as traditional CPR, the segment implies it is not novel. This meets the minimum standards for a satisfactory rating for this criterion.

The story would have been stronger, however, if it had mentioned that the most recent guidelines indicated compression-only CPR is an acceptable option, and that some medical experts have been urging this switch in recommendations for over a decade. 

Nonetheless, we’ll give the story the benefit of the doubt on this criterion.  

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

We can’t be sure if the story relied solely or largely on a news release.  No expert is interviewed.  And no direct reference was made to the research published in the AHA journal Circulation. So the story may have relied largely on a news release.  Or it may not.  We can’t judge.

Total Score: 5 of 8 Satisfactory


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