Background End-of-life medical decisions regarding life-supporting treatment frequently include questions on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) preferences, where individuals have to decide whether they would like to be resuscitated in case of cardiac arrest. However, knowledge of CPR survival rates in the general population is low, which may influence individuals’ decisions. This study explores the association between knowledge of CPR survival rate and preferences to be resuscitated in case of a cardiac arrest among a representative sample of older adults aged 58+ living in Switzerland.
Method We used data from 1,469 respondents from a paper-and-pencil self-completion questionnaire administered as part of wave 8 (2019/2020) of the Survey on Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). Respondents’ knowledge of CPR survival rate was assessed by using a vignette asking how likely it is in general in Switzerland for a 70-year-old to survive until hospital discharge from a CPR performed outside of a hospital following a cardiac arrest with four possible answers (very unlikely (0–25%), rather unlikely (26–50%), rather likely (51–75%), and very likely (76–100%). Preferences for CPR were assessed by asking respondents if they would wish to be resuscitated in case of cardiac arrest. The association between these two variables was assessed using a probit regression model, controlling for social, health, and regional characteristics.
Results Only 9,3% of respondents selected the right category of answer (very unlikely (0–25%)) regarding the CPR survival rate, and 65,2% wished to be resuscitated in case of a cardiac arrest. Respondents were less likely to want CPR when they correctly estimated the survival rate (AME: 0.18, p < 0.001).
Conclusions Given the association between knowledge and preference for CPR, overestimating the chances of success may lead individuals to seek this treatment. Thus, reducing misconceptions and knowledge gaps regarding CPR survival rate could change older adults’ preferences for CPR.
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