Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Original research
Australia’s awareness of cardiac arrest and rates of CPR training: results from the Heart Foundation's HeartWatch survey
  1. Susie Cartledge1,2,
  2. Danielle Saxton3,
  3. Judith Finn1,4,
  4. Janet E Bray1,4
  1. 1 Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2 Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3 National Heart Foundation of Australia, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4 Prehospital, Resuscitation and Emergency Care Research Unit (PRECRU), Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Susie Cartledge; susie.cartledge{at}


Objective We aimed to provide the first national estimates of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training and awareness of cardiac arrest.

Design A retrospective analysis of a national cross-sectional survey was undertaken. Data were collected online from adults in July 2017 as part of the Heart Foundation of Australia’s HeartWatch survey. We used logistic regression to examine demographic factors associated with CPR training.

Participants A national cohort was invited to participate in the survey using purposive, non-probability sampling methods with quotas for age, gender and area of residence, in order to reflect the wider Australian population. The final sample consisted of 1076 respondents.

Main outcome measure To determine an estimation of the prevalence of cardiac arrest awareness and CPR training at a national level and the relationship of training to demographic factors.

Results The majority (76%) of respondents were born in Australia with 51% female and 66% aged between 35 and 64 years. Only 16% of respondents could identify the difference between a cardiac arrest and a heart attack. While 56% reported previous CPR training, only 22% were currently trained (within 1 year). CPR training was associated with younger age (35 to 54 years) (OR 1.45, 95% CI 1.06 to 2.0), being born in Australia (OR 1.59, 95% CI 1.17 to 2.17) and higher levels of education (university, OR 1.86, 95% CI 1.35 to 2.57). CPR training increased confidence in respondents ability to perform effective CPR and use a defibrillator. Lack of CPR training was the most common reason why respondents would not provide CPR to a stranger.

Conclusions There is a need to improve the community’s understanding of cardiac arrest, and to increase awareness and training in CPR. CPR training rates have not changed over the past decades—new initiatives are needed.

  • cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • resuscitation
  • education & training (see medical education & training)
  • public health

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Twitter @susiecartledge

  • Presented at Spark of Life Conference, Australian Resuscitation Council, May 2019

  • Contributors SC and JB led the data analysis and drafted the paper. DS contributed to data analysis. All authors (SC, JB, DS and JF) contributed to critical revisions of the paper.

  • Funding Associate Professor Bray was funded by a Heart Foundation Fellowship (No. 101171). The study was also supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded Australian and New Zealand Prehospital Emergency Care (PEC-ANZ) Centre of Research Excellence (No. 1116453).

  • Competing interests JF and JB hold appointments with the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR). JF holds an Adjunct Research Professor appointment with St John Western Australia.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The present study was granted an ethics exemption from Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee (Project Number: 12329) as data provided for the research by the Heart Foundation of Australia was de-identified.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available.