Retention of CPR skills learned in a traditional AHA Heartsaver course versus 30-min video self-training: a controlled randomized study.



In this article, we present a study published on April 24, 2007 in association with:

  • RMC Research Corporation;
  • The Medical College of Wisconsin;
  • The University of Washington;
  • The University of Chicago Hospitals.

This is a study to compare two types of CPR instruction:

  • The first being “traditional” teaching, with a 4-hour instructor;
  • The second being “self-learning” via a 22-minute video.

Immediately post-training

Traditional classes Self-training classes
Assess responsiveness 72% 90%
Call 911 82% 71%
Overall performance 42% 60%
Ventilation volume 40% 61%
Hand placement 68% 80%
AVERAGE 60.80% 72.40%

2 months post-training

Traditional classes Self-training classes
Assess responsiveness 60% 77%
Call 911 74% 53%
Overall performance 30% 44%
Ventilation volume 36% 44%
Hand placement 59% 64%
AVERAGE 51.80% 56.40%

Students who took a self-learning course were able to perform better during their final exam. Let’s not forget that the students who took the “self-learning” training had only had a video of just 22 minutes prior to the tests.

The current 4-hour CPR course is a barrier to more widespread CPR training and older adults, in particular, are underrepresented in traditional classes. Training with a “self-instruction” program has shown that this type of training can produce short-term skills performance at least as good as those observed with “traditional” training.

This study was conducted on two hundred and eighty-five (285) adults aged 40 to 70 years who had never attended or had not received CPR training in the last 5 years. Candidates were randomly assigned to a control group without training. The two groups were divided into one or other of the following formulas:

  • The “traditional” type of training with the help of a teacher, in class and lasting 4 hours;
  • “Self-learning” type training via one of the three versions of a brief self-instruction video of 22 minutes.

CPR skills post-training performance was assessed using a scenario model by human examiners and a two-stage sensor manikin:

  • Time 1 (immediately post-training);
  • Time 2 (2 months after training).


At Time 1 and Time 2, the examiners rated the self-trained subjects better  than the traditionally trained subjects, with the exception of dialing 911.

The dummy’s data revealed that the performance of the self-trained subjects was better than that of the subjects trained traditionally at all times.

Self-trained subjects showed better performance  for ventilation volume, hand placement and compression depth at Time 1 and Time 2.

Performance by controls has been evaluated only once. Subjects with “traditional” cardio-rescue training and “self-trained” subjects generally showed similar rates of decline.

Two hundred and eighty-five (285) adults aged 40 to 70 years who participated in this study experienced a reduction in the performance of their CPR skills after a 2-month post-training interval. This decline is essentially the same as that observed in subjects who followed either of these two types of training (traditional or self-learning).

Traditionnal classes :

  • 4-hour CPR training called “Heartsaver” with instructor in class.

Self-training classes:

  • 22-minute video CPR self-directed training courses (VSI).


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