Research project aims to explore CPR inequality in the North East and Cumbria

Research project aims to explore CPR inequality in the North East and Cumbria

A new research project looking at why people in the North East and North Cumbria are less likely to give – or receive – life-saving CPR will be starting later this year.

When a person goes into cardiac arrest, their heart has stopped beating and it cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. Within seconds of a cardiac arrest, a person will become unconscious and unresponsive, and immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is required to save their life.

Members of the public have a vital role to play in improving someone’s chance of survival by recognising a cardiac arrest, calling for help, beginning CPR and using a publicly accessible defibrillator before the arrival of a paramedic.

However, despite the North East and North Cumbria having a higher number of cardiac arrests happening in the community compared to other parts of the country, statistics show that if you have a cardiac arrest outside of hospital in our region, you are less likely to receive CPR and therefore less likely to survive.

The research team at North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) has secured £50,000 in funding from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) for the North East and North Cumbria (NENC) to undertake a 12-month project, to better understand the reasons for this, and to try and begin to address these inequalities.

This research aims to question 400 members of the public via a face-to-face questionnaire to understand how likely they would be to initiate bystander CPR. Of those 400, 40 will then be invited for a one-to-one in-depth follow-up interview to get a better understanding of their answers.

Research paramedic Karl Charlton, who is the lead researcher on the project, said: “We know that every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces the chances of survival by 10 per cent, but that for some reason, people in the North East and Cumbria are statistically less likely to receive bystander CPR than other parts of the country. Current research suggests that this could be down to higher levels of social deprivation in our region but we don’t understand why.

“This research aims to begin to address this inequality by trying to understand how people feel about bystander CPR. Our findings will then inform future research to redress this issue.

“The work will target areas of deprivation and marginalised communities. Please keep an eye on our website to keep up to date with progress on the project.”

Karl will be introducing this research at a webinar arranged by the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) North East and North Cumbria (NENC), on 25 March, 2pm-3pm. For more information and to book, visit

This piece of work is one of 31 original and innovative research projects funded by the NIHR ARC North East and North Cumbria’s Open Funding Competition for 2020. You can read more about the funding, here.

The NIHR is the nation’s largest funder of health and care research and provides the people, facilities and technology that enables research to thrive. Find out more about the NIHR.

If you would like to find out more about the project, please email

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