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Resuscitation. 2015 May;90:73-8. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2015.02.014. Epub 2015 Feb 21.

What CPR means to surrogate decision makers of ICU patients.

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Department of Radiology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, United States. Electronic address:
University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, United States. Electronic address:
University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, United States. Electronic address:



The decision to accept or decline cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) by surrogate decision makers on behalf of a family member is a common and important component of end-of-life decision-making in the ICU. While many determinants influence this decision, surrogates' understanding of CPR may be a major guiding factor. However, little is known about surrogates' knowledge and perceptions of CPR during the periods of time when their family member is critically ill. We conducted this study to explore surrogates' understanding of some basic concepts of CPR.


This is a descriptive, survey-based exploratory study of understanding of CPR concepts and outcomes conducted in a single-center medical ICU at a tertiary academic hospital in the United States. Study subjects were surrogate decision-makers of critically ill ICU patients who participated in an interview-format survey within 24h of the patient's ICU admission.


Of 97 eligible subjects (surrogates), 50 were enrolled in this study and represented a wide spectrum of demographics. All subjects had heard of CPR. The main source of information about CPR was a course. While 46% identified cardiac arrest as a main indication for CPR, only 8% identified at least 2 of the 3 main components of CPR. The majority (72%) believed survival after CPR was ≥75%. Forty-two percent of surrogates had spoken to the patient about CPR prior to coming to the hospital, and 57% had spoken to the physician during this hospitalization. Twenty-six percent changed their decision on CPR during the ICU stay.


There is a wide variation in surrogates' understanding and knowledge of CPR concepts and outcomes.


Cardiopulmonary resuscitation; Decision-making; Surrogate

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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