Gender Disparity in Effective Chest Compression Delivery during Cardiopulmonary Resusitation

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Dr. Jeff Keuss

First Advisor/Committee Member

Cara Wall-Scheffler, PhD

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Lorie Wild, PhD, RN


CPR, gender differences, literature review


Hemodynamic studies have shown that the chest compressions delivered during cardiopulmonary resuscitation produce adequate arterial systolic pressure but only around 33 percent of normal cardiac output (DelGuercio et al., 1965; MacKenzie, Taylor, McDonald & Donald, 1964). Even so, chest compression is far better than no intervention at all, and is appropriate for the treatment of both in-hospital and out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Resuscitation guidelines, such as those published by the American Heart Association, emphasize compression effectiveness—compression delivery at an adequate rate and depth over time to maximize overall perfusion in the cardiac arrest victim.

Throughout resuscitation literature, a striking trend emerges: male rescuers are more effective in delivering chest compressions than female rescuers by about 50 percent (Jones & Lee, 2008; Russo et al., 2011). But, fascinatingly, no study has been able to point out exactly why. Effectiveness data has been run against rescuer height, age, BMI, and level of CPR education without any sign of correlation (Greenstein, Lakticova, Kory, & Mayo, 2011; Jones & Lee, 2008; Peberdy, Silver, & Ornato, 2009; Russo et al., 2011). Compression effectiveness has a moderate positive correlation with physical fitness; however, “fitness” is inconsistently defined.

No studies have been published which specifically address gender difference in CPR delivery, and many potential causes for this effectiveness variance have yet to be explored. While this subject would clearly benefit from extensive experimentation, the inconsistencies in the literature must be addressed first. Terms such as physical fitness, survival, and effectiveness have disparate definitions across the literature, which presents a challenge for the researcher. This study seeks to address these barriers to consistency with the specific goal of addressing the presence of gender disparity in effective compression delivery.


A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Scholars Program.

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