NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As New Jerseyans become more health conscious, they also have gained an appreciation for the importance of learning to perform two potentially life-saving techniques, CPR and the Heimlich maneuver. The latest Rutgers-Eagleton Health Series poll finds that since a similar 1997 survey, the percentage of state residents who are trained in the former has increased from 38 percent to 59 percent. The percentage which understands how to treat choking or suffocation victims by applying the Heimlich maneuver has climbed from 36 percent to 50 percent.
The importance of knowing the two emergency first aid operations cannot be understated: 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur in the home while the Heimlich maneuver can prevent suffocation from choking, the third-leading cause of home and community death in the country. As of September, children in New Jersey high schools are now required to take CPR training thanks to a bill passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Chris Christie earlier this year.
“The increased number of New Jerseyans with training is good news,” said William Halperin, a physician and chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) and the Rutgers School of Public Health (SPH). “But we need to be at 100 percent. These techniques are easy to learn, and organizations like the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross provide accessible local training.”
The poll shows that nearly all New Jerseyans have heard of CPR and 15 percent have used it, although very few have been recipients of the technique. Similarly, 90 percent of respondents have heard of Heimlich, 19 percent have used it and 6 percent have been aided by it.
“Federal statistics show that about 300,000 Americans experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year,” said Andrea Marcus, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Health Related Professions (SHRP) and the SPH. “Training in CPR is an important step we can all take to improve public health. Knowing the Heimlich maneuver also saves lives.”
The Rutgers-Eagleton Health Series poll is a partnership between the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (home of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll) and NJMS, said poll Director and Rutgers political scientist David Redlawsk, who observed, “The results are an example of how our new collaboration gives us a better handle on New Jerseyans’ knowledge of some of the most basic and vital health information.” NJMS’s Halperin added, “The new poll is already providing data that will help us focus on opportunities to make New Jerseyans healthier.”
Results of the inaugural poll are from a statewide sample of 871 New Jerseyans contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from July 28 to Aug. 5, 2014, with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points.
Demographics of CPR awareness and trainingThough 96 percent of New Jersey residents have heard of CPR, there are some demographic differences: women (by five points) and whites (also five points) are more likely to have heard of CPR than men and nonwhites. Middle-age respondents are six points more likely to know the term than millennials (residents under 30).
Of those familiar with CPR, 61 percent have been trained it its use. There are clear disparities in training, however. Millennials are 30 points more likely than senior citizens to have been trained in CPR (71 percent to 41 percent). Other age groups fall in between, with 60 percent of those ages 50 to 64, and 68 percent of those between 30 and 49 who are aware of CPR, trained in its use.
Residents with household incomes under $50,000, and who are aware of CPR, are six to 11 points less likely to have been trained compared to those earning more. The least-educated New Jerseyans are 10 points less likely to have been trained than those with more schooling. Respondents with children in their households are somewhat more likely to have been trained than those without, 66 percent to 59 percent in childless homes.
“The American Heart Association reports that effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest doubles or triples a victim’s chance of survival,” said Marian Passannante, epidemiologist and professor at NJMS and SPH. “But only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims actually get CPR from a bystander.”
About 16 percent of those familiar with CPR have used it, but men are more likely than women to report this, 19 percent to 13 percent. Only 10 percent of millennials report using CPR, compared to 18 percent of middle-age residents and 15 percent of seniors. Regionally, shore county and urban residents are about 10 points more likely to use CPR than suburbanites.
Halperin, the NJMS physician, says use CPR if you know how. “If you see an unresponsive adult who is not breathing, first call 911 or have someone else call, and then immediately start CPR.”
Fewer residents trained in Heimlich maneuver
More than half (56 percent) of the 90 percent of New Jerseyans who know about the Heimlich maneuver have been trained to perform it, the poll finds. There are larger demographic differences than with CPR, Redlawsk observes: whites are 15 percent more likely to have heard of the technique than nonwhites, and millennials are five to nine points less familiar with the maneuver than are New Jerseyans over 30.
However, among those aware of the Heimlich maneuver, more nonwhites have been trained in the procedure, 60 percent versus 53 percent, and the likelihood of being trained declines with age; 69 percent of millennials are trained compared to 35 percent of seniors.
Also, 60 percent of college graduates who are aware of it have Heimlich training compared to 47 percent of high school graduates. As with CPR, households with children are more likely to have been trained than in those without, 64 percent to 52 percent.
While 21 percent of those who have knowledge of the Heimlich maneuver have used it, younger New Jerseyans are the least likely to have done so: 12 percent of millennials, compared to just under 25 percent of all older residents. Wealthier New Jerseyans are about 10 points more likely to have used the Heimlich maneuver than those earning less.
EDITOR’S NOTE: ATTENTION ASSIGNMENT EDITORS, Poll Director David Redlawsk may be contacted at 319-400-1134 (cell), 732-932-9384, ext. 285 (office), or firstname.lastname@example.org. Professors William Halperin or Marian Passannante of NJMS may be contacted at 973-972-4422. Questions and tables are available at: http://eagletonpoll.rutgers.edu/rephs-cpr-heimlich/. Visit our blog at http://eagletonpollblog.wordpress.com for additional commentary. Follow the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RutgersEagletonPoll and Twitter @EagletonPoll.