Immediate Life Support (ILS)- Healthcare

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Bystander CPR and females

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Gender Disparity in Bystander CPR: Addressing the Gap for Improved Cardiac Arrest Survival


Cardiac arrest strikes without warning, requiring swift action to maximise survival chances. Bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) plays a crucial role in saving lives during such emergencies. However, studies have revealed concern in the disparity that women in the UK are less likely to receive bystander CPR compared to men.

Gender Disparity in Receiving Bystander CPR

Several research studies have consistently highlighted a gender disparity in receiving bystander CPR. The reasons behind this disparity are multifaceted, with societal, anatomical, and perceptual factors at play.

Societal and Perceptual Factors

Societal norms and cultural biases often influence individuals' response during emergencies. Traditional gender roles and stereotypes can inadvertently affect the decision to administer CPR. The perception that women may have a lower likelihood of experiencing cardiac arrest due to hormonal differences or less physical activity may lead to unconscious bias that influences the bystanders' actions. Fear and lack of knowledge about CPR techniques may contribute to bystanders hesitating to provide assistance, particularly to women.

Anatomical Differences

Anatomical differences between men and women can also play a role in the lower chance of bystander CPR for women. Women often exhibit different cardiac arrest symptoms than men, such as atypical chest pain or shortness of breath, which can be mistaken for other conditions. This misdiagnosis may lead to delayed recognition for the need of CPR or confusion among bystanders, further decreasing the likelihood of immediate action.

Addressing the Gender Disparity in Bystander CPR

Education and Awareness

Education and awareness are important to raise public awareness about the importance of CPR and dispel misconceptions about gender differences in cardiac arrest. Campaigns should emphasise that cardiac arrest emergencies can affect anyone regardless of gender. Widespread CPR training programs should address gender disparities and focus on recognizing cardiac arrest symptoms, understanding gender-specific variations, and overcoming potential psychological barriers.

Gender-Inclusive Training

Training should focus on providing bystanders with the skills and confidence to perform CPR on women. The use of inclusive language and imagery in educational materials can help counteract gender bias and encourage equal treatment in emergency situations. Visual representations that feature women as both rescuers and recipients of CPR can reinforce the message that gender should not impact the decision to administer lifesaving interventions.

Incorporating Gender-Specific Considerations

Healthcare authorities and professional organisations should incorporate gender-specific considerations into CPR guidelines and protocols. These measures can help guide bystanders and medical professionals alike, ensuring equitable care for cardiac arrest victims.

Closing the Gender Gap in Bystander CPR

Closing the gender gap in bystander CPR is crucial for improving cardiac arrest survival rates in the UK. By addressing societal bias, promoting education awareness, and providing gender-inclusive training, we can empower bystanders to respond promptly and confidently regardless of the gender of the individual in need. Together, we can create a society where every person, regardless of their gender, receives the life-saving intervention they deserve in their most vulnerable moments.