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Majority Of YouTube CPR Videos Wrong Or Incomplete

January 6, 2011

A new study suggests that YouTube — a popular site for watching videos of anything from kittens playing to kids singing — is not the most reliable source for learning how to perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Researchers found that of the 52 videos they discovered on YouTube of people teaching how to perform CPR, half were uploaded by individuals with no apparent health qualifications.

Of the rest, most were posted by either a private group (not a government agency or medical group with official CPR guidelines) or by people who claimed they were a certified CPR instructor, doctor or paramedic.

Lead researcher Dr. Karthik Murugiah told Reuters Health in an e-mail that many of the videos gave accurate information on how to perform CPR.

However, there were also many more that showed an incorrect or incomplete picture, said Murugiah, an assistant professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

Nearly 65 percent, for example, either incorrectly described the rate of CPR chest compressions or did not cover the detail at all. And 57 percent fell short on showing viewers how deep the chest compressions should be.

The ideal rate is at least 100 compressions per minute, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Each compression should be about two inches deep in adults and children, and about one and a half inches in infants. It is important to let the chest return to its starting position after each compression, so rescuers should not lean on the chest between compressions.

Also, only a handful of the videos dealt with “hands-only” CPR, where bystanders skip the traditional mouth-to-mouth breathing and perform chest compressions only. That is important because the AHA and other medical groups now recommend that whenever an adult suddenly collapses and is unresponsive, bystanders perform hands-only CPR — unless they are confident in their ability to do traditional CPR.

“I would say although there is very accurate information out there on YouTube,” Murugiah said, adding “it is difficult for the lay person to wade through all the content and watch the right videos. And there is a risk of dissemination of incorrect information.”

He said the findings, reported in the journal Resuscitation, suggest that guideline-making groups, like the AHA and Red Cross, should get more CPR information out to online venues such as YouTube.

Of course, content on YouTube changes rather quickly. And since the time of the study, which began in February 2010, the AHA has added a couple CPR-teaching videos to its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/americanheartassoc).

The Red Cross also has a video demonstrating hands-only CPR on its channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/AmRedCross).

Murugiah said that both the AHA and the Red Cross videos are “certainly good, reliable sources of information on CPR.” But even their videos, he added, are somewhat vague on detail and show “room for improvement.”

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