A quantitative and qualitative study investigated how well nursing students applied cardiopulmonary arrest principles and identified factors influencing ability to function in an emergency.


A questionnaire elicited information about experiences related to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Groups managed an unexpected simulated cardiopulmonary arrest. Performance was evaluated for correct application of basic life support (BLS). Debriefing transcripts were analyzed for themes. Participants responded to questions related to confidence and fear again 3 months later.


Confidence in code response increased and fear in encountering a code decreased following the simulated clinical experience (SCE). Four of ten groups implemented BLS correctly. Five themes were identified: future, managing the code, simulation versus reality, lack of knowledge, and personal feelings.


Use of patient simulation increased confidence in ability to the same level as real experience did. Code management without risk to humans enhanced confidence and decreased fear of encountering a real code. Knowledge gaps were addressed through debriefing. Traditional CPR teaching methods did not effectively prepare participants to apply that knowledge and skill in an SCE comparable to a real experience.