Background Older persons are the group most likely to respond to cardiac arrests in private residences.

Objective To characterize the knowledge about, attitudes toward, and perceived self-efficacy of older persons in learning and providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Methods A total of 2743 surveys were mailed to adults 55 years and older who resided in a single Michigan suburb. Data were collected on demographics, medical history, training in and willingness to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and concerns about providing this intervention.

Results The 631 persons (24.6%) who responded were elderly (mean age, 73.5 years) and had a mean of 1.7 occupants per household. More than one third lived alone. Of all respondents, 275 (43.6%) had received training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, 370 (58.6%) indicated a willingness to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and 412 (65.3%) thought that they had the ability to perform this intervention. Respondents 80 years or younger were significantly more likely than respondents more than 80 years old to be willing to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (65.7% vs 19.0%, P < .001) and perceived themselves as able to perform it (73.0% vs 34.0%, P < .001). The absence of mouth-to-mouth ventilation as part of training had minimal impact on the willingness of either age group to receive training (61.2% vs 58.6%, P = .19). Perceived ability to learn and perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation did not vary with the medical history of the respondent or the respondent’s spouse.

Conclusion Adults 56 to 80 years old perceive themselves as able to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and are interested in receiving training.

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