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Lack of training and access putting public off using defibrillators

People are reluctant to use public access defibrillators to treat cardiac arrests as they don’t know where they are or how to use them, a study suggests.

People are reluctant to use public access defibrillators to treat cardiac arrests as they don’t know where they are or how to use them, a study suggests.


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Researchers from the University of Warwick analysed a total of 68 existing international studies on the provision of automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

Despite being designed for use by untrained members of the public, they found a lack of confidence and fear of causing harm were common themes across the studies.

Writing in the European Heart Journal, they observed that only a minority of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in locations where use of a defibrillator would help save a life.

Despite this, AEDs are often poorly accessible or have limited availability – often their location is not known to even emergency services or those running training schemes.

They also found that although members of the public saw the value of AED training, most hadn’t undergone any.

One study looked at as part of the research concluded the chance of survival was nearly double in a group that received cardiopulmonary resuscitation and were treated with a public access defibrillator compared to a group that received cardiopulmonary resuscitation alone.


Smith M C et al (2017). Barriers and facilitators to public access defibrillation in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: a systematic review. European Heart Journal - Quality of Care and Clinical Outcomes. doi:10.1093/ehjqcco/qcx023

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