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Do medical students studying in the United Kingdom have an adequate factual knowledge of basic life support?

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Robert D. Willmore1, Damjan Veljanoski2, Feray Ozdes3, Bethan Stephens4, James Mooney5, Seamus G. Crumley6, Arpan Doshi7, Philippa Davies7, Shreya Badhrinarayanan8, Emily Day9, Kristian Tattam10, April Wilson10, Nathan Crang11, Lorna Green12, Craig A. Mounsey13, Howell Fu13, Joseph Williams13, Michelle S. D'souza14, Dhanya Sebastian14, Liam A. Mcgiveron15, Matthew G. Percy15, James Cohen16, Imogen J. John17, Alice Lethbridge17, Imogen Watkins18, Omar Amin19, Mubasher A. Qamar20, John Gerrard Hanrahan21, Emily Cramond-Wong22


1 Barts Health NHS Trust, London, United Kingdom


2 Barts & the London Medical School, Queen Mary University of London, E1 2AT, United Kingdom


3 Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom


4 Lancaster Medical School, Lancaster University, LA1 4YW, United Kingdom


5 School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen's University Belfast, BT7 1NN, United Kingdom


6 Faculty of Medicine, University of St Andrews, KY16 9AJ, United Kingdom


7 Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health, University of Sheffield, S10 2TN, United Kingdom


8 Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, BN2 5BE, United Kingdom


9 St George's University of London, SW17 0RE, United Kingdom


10 University of Liverpool School of Medicine, L3 5PS, United Kingdom


11 University of Exeter medical school, EX4 4QJ, United Kingdom


12 Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom


13 Medical Sciences Division, University of Oxford, OX1 3PA, United Kingdom


14 University of Edinburgh Medical School, EH8 9YL, United Kingdom


15 Faculty of Medicine, University of Warwick, CV4 7AL, United Kingdom


16 University College London Medical School, WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom


17 Cardiff University School of Medicine, CF10 3XQ, United Kingdom


18 College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, B15 2TT, United Kingdom


19 College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ, United Kingdom


20 Guys, Kings, and St Thomas School of Medicine, King's College London, WC2R 2LS, United Kingdom


21 Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, King's College London, WC2R 2LS, United Kingdom


22 Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham, NG7 2RD, United Kingdom


Corresponding Author: Robert Willmore, Email: robwillmore@doctors.org.uk


© 2019 World Journal of Emergency Medicine


DOI: 10.5847/wjem.j.1920–8642.2019.02.002


BACKGROUND: Healthcare professionals have a duty to maintain basic life support (BLS) skills. This study aims to evaluate medical students' factual knowledge of BLS and the training they receive.

METHODS: A cross-sectional, closed-response questionnaire was distributed to the first- and fourth-year students studying at institutions in the United Kingdom. The paper questionnaire sought to quantify respondent's previous BLS training, factual knowledge of the BLS algorithm using five multiple choice questions (MCQs), and valuate their desire for further BLS training. Students received 1 point for each correctly identified answer to the 5 MCQ's.

RESULTS: A total of 3,732 complete responses were received from 21 medical schools. Eighty percent (n=2,999) of students completed a BLS course as part of their undergraduate medical studies. There was a significant difference (P<0.001) in the percentage of the fourth-year students selecting the correct answer in all the MCQ's compared to the first-year students except in identifying the correct depth of compressions required during CPR (P=0.095). Overall 10.3% (95% CI 9.9% to 10.7%) of respondents correctly identified the answer to 5 MCQ's on BLS: 9% of the first-year students (n=194) and 12% of the fourth-year students (n=190). On an institutional level the proportion of students answering all MCQ's correctly ranged from 2% to 54% at different universities. Eighty-one percent of students (n=3,031) wished for more BLS training in their curriculum.

CONCLUSION: Factual knowledge of BLS is poor among medical students in the UK. There is a disparity in standards of knowledge across institutions and respondents indicating that they would like more training.

(World J Emerg Med 2019;10(2):75–80)


KEY WORDS: Emergency Medicine; Basic life support; Medical education; Resuscitation

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