Bystander CPR is less common in Hispanic neighborhoods, study finds

The study findings suggest a need for more CPR training in Hispanic communities


By EMS1 Staff

DALLAS — A study recently published in the American Heart Association’s academic journal found that bystander CPR is less common in neighborhoods that have a majority Hispanic population.

According to research published Monday in AHA’s journal Circulation, people who experienced cardiac arrest in neighborhoods with a Hispanic population of at least 75% were 40% less likely to receive CPR from a bystander and 44% less likely to survive than those in neighborhoods with a Hispanic population lower than 25%.

A study by Duke University School of Medicine Assistant Professor Audrey Blewer, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, found that people who experienced cardiac arrest were less likely to receive CPR from bystanders in neighborhoods with a majority Hispanic population. (Photo/Duke University School of Medicine)
A study by Duke University School of Medicine Assistant Professor Audrey Blewer, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, found that people who experienced cardiac arrest were less likely to receive CPR from bystanders in neighborhoods with a majority Hispanic population. (Photo/Duke University School of Medicine)

The study also reported that those in neighborhoods where at least half of the residents were Hispanic were 39% less likely to receive bystander CPR than those in neighborhoods where less than a quarter of residents were Hispanic.

“We know that bystander CPR improves your chances of survival,” said Audrey Blewer, assistant professor at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, and lead author of the study. “But in Hispanic neighborhoods, it’s not happening.”

The research was based on data from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests between 2011 and 2015 in several cities including Dallas, Milwaukee, San Diego and Seattle. 

Blewer said the research may point to a need for more CPR training in Hispanic communities, but that the reasons for the disparity should be researched further.

Marina Del Rios, an associate professor in the department of emergency medicine and director of social emergency medicine and population health at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago, told the American Heart Association that language barriers and fear of deportation may contribute to lower rates of bystander CPR.

Del Rios, who was not involved in the recent study, has worked with the 911 dispatch center in Chicago to increase the use of telephone-assisted CPR in minority and low-income communities.

“Anecdotally, I have noticed a hesitation from these (Hispanic) communities to contact 911,” Del Rios said. “The last few years, politically there has been a real fear of deportation … It makes it more difficult for people to call and then stay on the phone long enough to follow directions. And then there’s the language barrier as well. It’s a confluence of negative characteristics that are more prevalent in Hispanic neighborhoods than other Communities.”

Del Rios said Spanish translation services for 911 dispatchers, as well as laws that protect 911 callers from deportation, are potential solutions for the problem.

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