The length of current 4-h classes in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a barrier to widespread dissemination of CPR training. The effectiveness of video-based self-instruction (VSI) has been demonstrated in several studies; however, the effectiveness of this method with older adults is not certain. Although older adults are most likely to witness out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, these potential rescuers are underrepresented in traditional classes. We evaluated a VSI program that comprised a 22-min video, an inflatable training manikin, and an audio prompting device with individuals 40–70 years old. The hypotheses were that VSI results in performance of basic CPR skills superior to that of untrained learners and similar to that of learners in Heartsaver classes.


Two hundred and eighty-five adults between 40 and 70 years old who had had no CPR training within the past 5 years were assigned to an untrained control group, Heartsaver training, or one of three versions of VSI. Basic CPR skills were measured by instructor assessment and by a sensored manikin.


The percentage of subjects who assessed unresponsiveness, called the emergency telephone number 911, provided adequate ventilation, proper hand placement, and adequate compression depth was significantly better (P < 0.05) for the VSI groups than for untrained controls. VSI subjects tended to have better overall performance and better ventilation performance than did Heartsaver subjects.


Older adults learned the fundamental skills of CPR with this training program in about half an hour. If properly distributed, this type of training could produce a significant increase in the number of lay responders who can perform CPR.