Low-income blacks are less likely than high-income whites to receive CPR from a bystander

Disparities/Minority Health

A person’s chances of survival after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest may depend on where they live. For example, a new study found that persons living in low-income black neighborhoods were less likely to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) from a bystander than individuals living in high-income white neighborhoods. 

The study included data on 14,225 persons who experienced an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Patient characteristics collected included age, sex, race or ethnic group, the location of the cardiac arrest, and if it was witnessed by a bystander. Census data provided the ability to categorize the neighborhoods where the cardiac arrest occurred based on race and income.

A total of 4,068 individuals (28.6 percent) received CPR from a bystander. They were more likely to be male, white, be in a public location, and have their cardiac arrest witnessed at the time it took place. Those less likely to receive bystander CPR had their cardiac arrests in low-income or predominantly black neighborhoods. Compared to whites, blacks and Hispanics were less likely to receive bystander CPR. The same was true for persons in low-income black neighborhoods compared to those in high-income white neighborhoods. 

The odds of getting CPR from a bystander were 50 percent lower in low-income black neighborhoods compared to high-income non-black neighborhoods. When a person had a cardiac arrest in a high-income black neighborhood, they were 23 percent less likely to receive CPR from a bystander compared to someone in a high-income nonblack neighborhood.

Regardless of where the neighborhood was where the cardiac arrest took place, blacks and Hispanics were 30 percent less likely than whites to receive bystander CPR. The researchers suggest that more tailored approaches are needed to provide CPR training to residents of low-income black neighborhoods. 

The study was supported in part by AHRQ (HS17526). See "Association of neighborhood characteristics with bystander-initiated CPR," by Comilla Sasson, M.D., David J. Magid, M.D., Paul Chan, M.D., and others in the October 15, 2012, New England Journal of Medicine 367(17), pp. 1607-1615.

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Page last reviewed June 2013
Internet Citation: Low-income blacks are less likely than high-income whites to receive CPR from a bystander: Disparities/Minority Health. June 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/13jun/0613RA6.html