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Basic life support skills of high school students before and after cardiopulmonary resuscitation training: a longitudinal investigation

Theresa M Meissner*, Cordula Kloppe and Christoph Hanefeld

Author Affiliations

Medizinische Klinik III, St. Elisabeth-Hospital, Bleichstr. 15, 44787 Bochum, Germany

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Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine 2012, 20:31  doi:10.1186/1757-7241-20-31

Published: 14 April 2012



Immediate bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) significantly improves survival after a sudden cardiopulmonary collapse. This study assessed the basic life support (BLS) knowledge and performance of high school students before and after CPR training.


This study included 132 teenagers (mean age 14.6 ± 1.4 years). Students completed a two-hour training course that provided theoretical background on sudden cardiac death (SCD) and a hands-on CPR tutorial. They were asked to perform BLS on a manikin to simulate an SCD scenario before the training. Afterwards, participants encountered the same scenario and completed a questionnaire for self-assessment of their pre- and post-training confidence. Four months later, we assessed the knowledge retention rate of the participants with a BLS performance score.


Before the training, 29.5% of students performed chest compressions as compared to 99.2% post-training (P < 0.05). At the four-month follow-up, 99% of students still performed correct chest compressions. The overall improvement, assessed by the BLS performance score, was also statistically significant (median of 4 and 10 pre- and post-training, respectively, P < 0.05). After the training, 99.2% stated that they felt confident about performing CPR, as compared to 26.9% (P < 0.05) before the training.


BLS training in high school seems highly effective considering the minimal amount of previous knowledge the students possess. We observed significant improvement and a good retention rate four months after training. Increasing the number of trained students may minimize the reluctance to conduct bystander CPR and increase the number of positive outcomes after sudden cardiopulmonary collapse.

Basic life support; High school students; Teenagers; Cardiopulmonary resuscitation; Assessment; Retention; Sudden cardiac arrest; Automated external defibrillation