Female Medical Students Perform CPR Less Efficiently Than Male Counterparts

Female Medical Students Perform CPR Less Efficiently Than Male Counterparts

Does it matter whether a man or a woman carries out CPR? Researchers at the University of Basel and University Hospital Basel have shown that female resuscitation teams performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation less efficiently than their male counterparts. The study suggests that there is a need for action in the training of young female physicians. The scientific journal Critical Care Medicine has published the results.

When somebody’s heart stops, every second counts. Knowledge, ability and the interaction between members of the resuscitation team are vital for swift action and a successful outcome. Earlier studies have shown that efficient and strong leadership communication improves the patient’s chances of survival; students are thus taught these communication skills during their medical training.

However, to date, there has been little research into how gender affects performance in resuscitation situations. A study by the University of Basel and University Hospital Basel has now examined the differences between male and female medical students’ performance and leadership behavior during CPR.

Men show stronger leadership in emergency situations

As part of the study, 216 medical students (108 women and 108 men) were divided into groups of three. A Basel-based research team documented and analyzed the performance of the individual groups during a simulated cardiac arrest scenario. They focused on hands-on time, defined as the uninterrupted  CPR time within the first three minutes after the onset of the cardiac arrest, and also noted how often the participants made clear leadership statements, i.e. verbal commands to assign tasks or clarify how something should be done.

“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. 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 men.

Gender-specific training

The results show that there is an important difference between male and female rescuers. Although female medical students possessed at least the same level of theoretical knowledge as their male colleagues, they performed weaker overall. “This suggests that more targeted measures need to be introduced to prepare and train women for emergency situations,” says Hunziker. In light of the growing percentage of women in medical schools, the study also shows the importance of gender research for targeted and effective training.

Read abstract here.

SOURCE: University of Basel


Bob Trenkamp's picture
Bob Trenkamp wrote 2 years 30 weeks ago

Males and Females

But the most important factor was not even mentioned: weight of the males vs weight of the females.

As a rough approximation, the victim will have a chest stiffness that is about 80% of the victim's total body weight. When performing manual compression, the force the rescuer can apply to the chest depends upon the rescuer's total body weight and weight distribution. It isn't clear to me that one's ability to issue clear leadership statements dependably influences SCA victim survival.

From testing 383 EMS providers and 200+ Bystanders for rate, force, and leaning, it is clear that heavier people lean more, that lighter people tire faster. There are other tendencies that emerge from the data.

I'm arguing that we need to spend more time solving the really large resuscitation problems such as (a) measuring the compression depth, rate and leaning, (b) assuring that groups called upon to perform CPR in real life are heavy enough to do so and to do so until the defibrillator is used, and (c) feedback devices are used to overcome the shortcomings of prior coaching.


Bob Trenkamp, President
Saving Lives In Chatham County

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