Watching a brief, hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) video made people more likely to attempt CPR – and to do it better – in an emergency, according to a study recently reported in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

The study is especially significant because in the United States, bystanders attempt CPR only about 26 percent of the time, according to Bentley J. Bobrow, M.D., lead author of the study and clinical associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine in the Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona and the University of Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center.

“Chest compression-only CPR, also known as hands-only CPR, has been shown in studies to be at least as effective as standard CPR with mouth-to-mouth ventilation for adult primary cardiac arrest victims,” Bobrow said. “And because of its simplicity, hands-only CPR may be quicker and easier for lay rescuers to learn, remember and perform than conventional CPR.”

Each year, almost 300,000 people suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the United States. Survival rates from these events tend to be extremely low. However, research has shown that bystander CPR can double — even triple — survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Bobrow and colleagues conducted a study of 336 adults without recent CPR training, testing the participants’ ability to perform CPR during an adult out-of-hospital cardiac arrest simulation.

“This is the first controlled, randomized investigation evaluating the effectiveness of ultra-brief video training for teaching hands-only CPR to the lay public,” Bobrow said. “Given that the ultra-brief video training in our study is only 60 seconds, the CPR performance results are striking. “This finding has enormous public health implications because of the documented hesitancy of untrained rescuers to even attempt CPR and because it is known that any bystander resuscitation attempt improves outcomes compared to no CPR.” Co-authors of the study are: Tyler F. Vadeboncoeur, M.D.; Daniel W. Spaite, M.D.; Jerald Potts, Ph.D.; Kurt Denninghoff, M.D.; Vatsal Chikani, M.P.H.; Paula R. Brazil, M.A.; Bob Ramsey, M.A.; and Benjamin Abella, M.D., M.Phil.

The American Heart Association funded the study.