Cost, fear and a lack of information may prevent minorities in urban communities from learning and performing CPR, but free training or incentives like transportation to courses could help, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Six focus groups that included 42 residents in Columbus, Ohio, were interviewed about their knowledge of CPR and training in CPR. Most were 30 or older, African-American and female, and half lived in economically struggling, high-crime neighborhoods.

Money — for the class, childcare and transportation — was the biggest barrier to learning CPR.

Fear of performing CPR — especially on children and kids — was also a big factor. They didn’t know that Hands-Only CPR can save a life. Study participants also were afraid that performing CPR on a stranger would threaten their personal safety, lead to problems with the police or put them at risk of being sued.

And lack of information about the importance of CPR and where to receive training was another major hurdle. Eighty-eight percent were familiar with CPR, but only 43 percent had taken a course within the past three years.

“Our research suggests a community-based approach is needed, such as partnering with local churches,” said Comilla Sasson, M.D., lead researcher and emergency medicine expert and assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “Bringing our knowledge and expertise about CPR to their doorstep, instead of the other way around, could help address these issues and reduce healthcare disparities among minorities requiring immediate medical care.”

Making CPR classes free or providing allowances for childcare, gift cards for food or bus tokens for transportation was one way study participants said CPR awareness could be increased. Other ideas:

  • Combining CPR training with basic first aid training, offering certification or academic credit or promoting CPR as a job skill to help residents advance their professional careers; and
  • Emphasizing that CPR starts at home to save the lives of family members and loved ones.