Saving Lives, Equally: Gender Differences in CPR
Updated: 3 days ago
In an ideal scenario, a bystander rapidly initiates CPR on a sudden cardiac arrest victim. They aren’t breathing and don’t have a pulse, but you know what to do. You are trained in CPR and, as you’re calling 911, you begin chest compressions. An AED arrives on scene - you shock the patient’s heart and restore a pulse.
However, this is not always the case. Simply put, women are 27% less likely to receive bystander CPR in public spaces.
Why do men receive more CPR than women? Dr. Audrey Blewer, a leader in resuscitation research at the Duke University School of Medicine, argues that training can contribute to these disparities.
“Gender disparities likely result from a variety of sources, including previous bystander CPR training. Up until a few years ago, most every manikin that people were trained on were these half-torso manikins with the male anatomy. That's what people are being exposed to rather than discussing or even seeing the female torso with breasts. While CPR training and education is critical, it is also important to raise awareness about these known gender disparities with the lay public. These disparities potentially show our gender biases as a society. The more we can do to address public awareness and change both training and messaging will really make a difference in the future to improve outcomes from sudden cardiac arrest."
- Dr. Audrey Blewer, Duke University School of Medicine
Given these differences, it is critical that the resuscitation industry address proven gender disparities and make CPR accessible to and for everyone. Both the Womanikin and Avive Solutions Inc. are doing just that. The Womanikin, created by JOAN in partnership with the United States of Women, is a t-shirt-like attachment with breasts that is slipped over traditional, flat-chested, CPR training manikins. The goal of the Womanikin is to allow laypeople and responders to not feel dissuaded to provide CPR and shocks because of breasts. With this attachment, the United States of Women hopes to challenge outdated education and drive gender equality in cardiac intervention.
Avive Solutions Inc. is showing a similar commitment to gender equality. The graphics on Avive’s next-generation defibrillator intend to directly combat gender disparities among CPR recipients.
“Our mission is to revolutionize cardiac response, and part of that is being intentional about combating disparities in resuscitation through our product design. In this case, during early user testing of our product, we observed that untrained bystanders slowed their response and were overall more hesitant when responding to a woman in cardiac arrest. In an effort to remove barriers and encourage gender equality, we made one small, yet impactful, design decision to develop the first AED with graphics that depict breasts.”
- Sameer Jafri, Avive Solutions Inc.
Avive similarly draws upon research showing that those wearing bras are less likely to receive effective AED treatment. A 2015 study conducted by Canadian psychologists at the Universities of Laval and Calgary found that only 42% of participants removed the manikin’s bras as required for proper AED use. Avive recognizes these disparities and will be the first AED unit to audibly instruct responders to “expose the patient’s bare chest, including bra” in their next-generation defibrillator.
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