Posted on 12/12/2017
Jen Chapman at podium

PITTSBURGH, PA--More than 300,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) each year in the U.S., but the life-threatening condition is not on consumers’ radar, according to research conducted by global strategic marketing and research firm, StrataVerve, on behalf of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. Their baseline study was presented at the AHA Resuscitation Science Symposium in 2016. Follow-up research, conducted in November 2017, was presented by Jennifer Chap, StrataVerve, and Mary Newman, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, at the Emergency Cardiovascular Care Update last week in New Orleans. The study objectives were to explore shifts in aided and unaided awareness and understanding of SCA; to develop and test messaging to determine the best motivators and attention-getters; and to test a consumer-friendly definition of SCA.

The study design blended quantitative and qualitative methods and included an online survey of a representative national sample of 2,232 individuals provided by Survey Sampling International, and 20 in-person qualitative interviews among tourists in Orlando, ages 21-60, from 10 states, recruited by market research partner Strategic Artifex. In-person interviews, designed to bring quantitative findings to life, were facilitated by Jen Chap, who saved her husband Rick Chap's life with dispatcher-assisted CPR, and recorded by videographer, Dan Beckmann.

Participants in the online survey were exposed to a set of core questions, and then were divided into two groups. One group was exposed to a consumer-friendly definition of SCA (n=1,128); the other was exposed to message testing (n=1,104).

The 2017 study confirmed that the public is still confused about sudden cardiac arrest, and this is true even among people who have taken CPR classes who typically do not understand the purpose of CPR. The primary barriers to intervention—concern about hurting the victim, lack of confidence/competence, concern about liability risks, and the belief that someone else would be more competent—remained relatively constant between 2015 and 2017.

Once people were presented with a consumer-friendly definition of SCA*, CPR and AEDs (automated external defibrillators), however, attitudinal shifts were detected. For example, the perceived importance of knowing how to use an AED post-definition increased from 49% to 59% (a 20% increase). In addition, the likelihood to give CPR post-definition increased from 38% to 48% (a 26% increase) and the likelihood to apply an AED post-definition increased from 26% to 36% (a 38% increase). Based on a split sample (SCA, n=571; CA, n=557) and in-person interviews, including “sudden” in the definition of cardiac arrest proved to be important, since it conveys a sense of urgency and broadens the understanding of SCA when it occurs outside hospitals.

The research was also designed to test messages about sudden cardiac arrest that might resonate with the public and compel individuals to take action by either learning CPR and how to use an AED, intervening in sudden cardiac emergencies, or both. The 11 messages tested included messages developed by the National Cardiac Arrest Collaborative communications committee. Based on responses from 1,104 respondents, the message that is the most compelling is “You can double or triple a person’s chance of survival from Sudden Cardiac Arrest by immediately giving CPR.” The second most compelling message, which appeals to the emotional impact of SCA, is “You may save the life of someone you love by giving CPR, as most cardiac arrests occur in the home.”

The research team concluded the following:

  1. SCA is still not on consumers’ radar. But after reading a layperson’s definition, the likelihood of giving CPR and applying an AED increases dramatically. Including “sudden” in the definition signals urgency and breadth.

Implication: Creating a uniform definition of SCA in consumer-friendly language and using it consistently across organizations is urgent and mandatory.

  1. The blurring of heart attack and SCA may be contributing to unintentional consumer apathy with deadly consequences.

Implication: Efforts to reposition SCA are important at all levels, given that each condition presents differently and requires different actions.

  1. The SCA awareness and understanding gap extends even to those who have received CPR training as to when to use it and why.

Implication: Quality training is a must with the inclusion of the definition of SCA and how it presents. It is also important to train the media to call it SCA.

  1. The message “You can double or triple a person’s chance of survival from SCA by immediately giving CPR” resonates most effectively with the public. The second most effective message is: “You may save the life of someone you love by giving CPR, as most Sudden Cardiac Arrests happen at home.” Effective supporting points include:
    • The dispatcher as coach builds confidence and reassures the potential rescuer.
    • “You cannot hurt a victim, you can only help” dispels a common myth.
    • “Don’t wait for help to arrive…every second counts” drives urgency.

Implication: Combine the top two messages and support them with the key points listed above.

* Tested definition of SCA: Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a life-threatening emergency that occurs when the heart unexpectedly stops beating. It strikes seemingly healthy people of all ages, even children and teens. When SCA happens, the person collapses, becomes unresponsive, and is not breathing normally. The person may appear to be gasping, snoring or having a seizure. SCA leads to death within minutes if the person does not receive immediate help. Survival depends of the quick actions of people nearby to call 911, start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), and if available, use as AED (automated external defibrillator) as soon as possible.

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation thanks the following for their invaluable contributions to this landmark research: Principal: StrataVerve; Contributing Partners: Survey Sampling International, Strategic Artifex, Dan Beckmann, Buddy CPR, Verocity Creative Communications, and Just Do Something…Anything.

SOURCE: Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation