BASEL, Switzerland — When it comes to receiving potentially life-saving CPR, it shouldn’t matter whether the procedure is being performed by a man or woman — but it may be more important than thought. A new study finds that women simply aren’t as effective as men are with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
The study, conducted by the University of Basel and University Hospital Basel, examined the differences between men and women in terms of execution of CPR and the leadership skills they convey during the procedure. Prior studies have indicated that the demonstration of effective leadership and communication during CPR increases the odds of survival for the patient.
Researchers recruited 216 medical school students — split evenly as 108 male and 108 female participants. The team ran a simulated cardiac arrest scenario and monitored each student’s performance, measuring them on “hands-on time,” which is considered the first three minutes of uninterrupted chest compressions after a patient falls into cardiac arrest. The students were also graded on their level of leadership by tracking the number of times they took control of the situation and directed others on how to assist, or explained clearly what or how to perform a task.
The simulations were completed in same-sex teams and then again in mixed-gender teams.
The authors found a significant difference in the quality of care when it came to comparing men to women.
“In comparison with male-only teams, the female groups showed less hands-on time and took longer overall to start the CPR,” says Professor Sabina Hunziker, the study leader, in a university news release.
The female-only teams also showed less leadership communication compared with the male-only teams. Even in mixed teams, women made significantly fewer clear leadership statements than their male counterparts.
Hunziker adds that even though men and women may understand CPR all the same, better training standards and practices would be especially helpful for young female physicians.
“This suggests that more targeted measures need to be introduced to prepare and train women for emergency situations,” she says.
The study was published in the journal Critical Care Medicine.