Open Access Open Badges Research article

Development, validation, and results of a survey to measure understanding of cardiopulmonary resuscitation choices among ICU patients and their surrogate decision makers

Michael E Wilson1*, Abbasali Akhoundi2, Artur K Krupa3, Richard F Hinds4, John M Litell5, Ognjen Gajic1 and Kianoush Kashani2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA

2 Department of Medicine, Divisions of Nephrology and Critical Care Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA

3 Department of Critical Care Medicine, University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

4 Anesthesia Critical Care Research Unit, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA

5 Divisions of Emergency and Critical Care Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

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BMC Anesthesiology 2014, 14:15  doi:10.1186/1471-2253-14-15

Published: 8 March 2014



Shared-decision-making about resuscitation goals of care for intensive care unit (ICU) patients depends on a basic understanding of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Our objective was to develop and validate a survey to assess comprehension of CPR among ICU patients and surrogate decision-makers.


We developed a 12-item verbally-administered survey incorporating input from patients, clinicians, and expert focus groups.


We administered the survey to 32 ICU patients and 37 surrogates, as well as to 20 resident physicians to test discriminative validity. Median (interquartile range) total knowledge scores were 7 (5-10) for patients, 9 (7-12) for surrogates, and 14.5 (14-15) for physicians (p <.001). Forty-four percent of patients and 24% of surrogates could not explain the purpose of CPR. Eighty-eight percent of patients and 73% of surrogates could not name chest compressions and breathing assistance as two components of CPR in the hospital. Forty-one percent of patients and 24% of surrogates could not name a single possible complication of CPR. Forty-three percent of participants could not specify that CPR would be performed with a full code order and 25% of participants could not specify that CPR would not be performed with a do-not-resuscitate order. Internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.97) and test-retest reliability (Pearson correlation = 0.96, p < .001) were high.


This easily administered survey, developed to measure knowledge of CPR and resuscitation preference options among ICU patients and surrogates, showed strong face validity, content validity, internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and discriminative validity. A substantial proportion of ICU patients and surrogates decision-makers have poor knowledge of CPR and basic resuscitation options.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation; Questionnaires; Health knowledge; Intensive care unit