Barriers to Calling 911 and Learning and Performing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation for Residents of Primarily Latino, High-Risk Neighborhoods in Denver, Colorado

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Study objective:

Individuals in neighborhoods composed of minority and lower socioeconomic status populations are more likely to have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest event, less likely to have bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) performed, and less likely to survive. Latino cardiac arrest victims are 30% less likely than whites to have bystander CPR performed. The goal of this study is to identify barriers and facilitators to calling 911, and learning and performing CPR in 5 low-income, Latino neighborhoods in Denver, CO.


Six focus groups and 9 key informant interviews were conducted in Denver during the summer of 2012. Purposeful and snowball sampling, conducted by community liaisons, was used to recruit participants. Two reviewers analyzed the data to identify recurrent and unifying themes. A qualitative content analysis was used with a 5-stage iterative process to analyze each transcript.


Six key barriers to calling 911 were identified: fear of becoming involved because of distrust of law enforcement, financial, immigration status, lack of recognition of cardiac arrest event, language, and violence. Seven cultural barriers were identified that may preclude performance of bystander CPR: age, sex, immigration status, language, racism, strangers, and fear of touching someone. Participants suggested that increasing availability of tailored education in Spanish, increasing the number of bilingual 911 dispatchers, and policy-level changes, including CPR as a requirement for graduation and strengthening Good Samaritan laws, may serve as potential facilitators in increasing the provision of bystander CPR.


Distrust of law enforcement, language concerns, lack of recognition of cardiac arrest, and financial issues must be addressed when community-based CPR educational programs for Latinos are implemented.

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