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Reuters Health succinctly and accurately summarizes study looking at bystander CPR and survivor rates


5 Star



Bystander CPR may boost survival odds when ambulance delayed

Our Review Summary

Bystander CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) remains an underutilized resource for victims of cardiac arrest. This story adds to evidence about how important it may be for observers to step in quickly when someone near them collapses, without waiting for the arrival of an ambulance.

The story did a good job providing exact numbers on what the researchers measured, and it mentioned a few limitations to the study. It could have been a bit more clear on how this was measured–that it was looking at correlations between bystander CPR and survival rates, and not a direct experiment where more factors can be controlled (such as making sure the CPR is administered correctly).


Why This Matters

Studies like the one reported in this article are important for building understanding among the lay public about the benefits–and limits–of CPR.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

There is no direct cost to bystander CPR, so this category is not applicable.

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


The story does a good job of giving exact numbers of survivors who did and didn’t receive CPR in the study. It provides exact survival times for ambulance arrivals at 5, 10, and 13 minutes. These statistics are provided both in terms of percentages and ratios.

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

Not Applicable

The intervention studied here involves a last-ditch emergency effort to revive a person who is dying. There are some potential harms if the resuscitated person survives, and the story didn’t mention those, but given the measured approach of this story and the nature of the research, we feel this one is N/A.

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


In this story, important limitations of study findings are explained to some degree, enough to be satisfactory. An author of the study is cited explaining that the findings do not definitely establish that CPR is actually the direct cause of the higher survival rates reported. The reason for that, unstated, is that this study reports the correlation between cases in which bystander CPR was administered and patient survival rates. It wasn’t an experiment that could prove one caused the other–that could have been made clearer.

Granted, at the end of the story we learn “the study is observational and doesn’t prove bystander CPR increases survival odds, the authors note in Circulation. Researchers also lacked data on how quickly bystanders intervened after the start of cardiac arrest, which could influence outcomes, the authors note.”

But since some readers may not know what “observational” means, this could have been spelled out more.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


There is no disease mongering in the story.

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


The story quotes two independent experts whose specific credentials are clearly presented. These sources are cited on the general mechanism of CPR and the importance of starting CPR early. Ideally, they’d also speak to the research itself, providing context on what the general public should know. But given that the story presents the research accurately, and included a discussion of limitations, this is a minor concern here.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


In a way this story is all about the alternative to bystander CPR: doing nothing until the ambulance arrives. There really isn’t another alternative that could have been discussed.

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


The story doesn’t outright state that pretty much anybody is capable of performing CPR. However, it does imply that CPR is widely available by explaining that the biggest barrier to bystander CPR is that too few people know how to do it. More explanation about how easy it is to learn the procedure (training can be done in just a few minutes) would have improved that aspect of the article.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


While the story doesn’t make it explicitly clear what’s novel, it does provide enough context for the reader to understand that this study builds upon past research that was more general. That’s done via this quote:

“We know from previous research that 1 in 8 people survive after a cardiac arrest if a bystander initiates CPR before the arrival of the emergency medical services,” Rajan said by email. “In contrast, if CPR is not initiated before the arrival of the emergency medical services, only 1 in 30 people survive a cardiac arrest.”

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


The story does not appear to be based solely on a press release. It quotes two experts who were not involved in the study.

Total Score: 8 of 8 Satisfactory


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