What makes CPR training stick?
“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”
So said the late American entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn. While the quote itself is today the stuff of digital wallpapers, the sentiment rings true.
For anyone who has avoided an unpleasant task, it would seem self-evident that if you want to do something, you’ll do it.
Or put another way: want breeds will. Just ask Rocky Balboa (pictured).
The power of “want”
If I want to do something, chances are I’ll be better at it, compared to someone who doesn’t share my motivation.
Take for example, this medical education experiment. It found that autonomous motivation improved academic performance through better learning strategies and higher study effort.
Then there’s this children’s classroom study, which showed that task-focused students achieved superior learning outcomes compared to task-avoiders – even after factoring in variances in IQ and language comprehension between subjects.
The same relationship between motivation and outcomes has been shown among first aid training participants.
For example, this Japanese study showed that people who participated in first aid training because they wanted to, were more likely to help someone survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest compared to those participants who did the training because they had to.
These studies showed that a person’s positive motivation made them more likely to perform better, even above less-motivated peers with higher innate abilities.
What makes someone want to learn CPR?
In their scoping review on motivations of participants in first aid education, Jeffrey Pellegrino and Nicholas Asselin collected reasons for signing up into three categories.
There are people who do it because they have to, either due to a workplace requirement or because it’s part of a broader syllabus.
Then there are people who feel they have to out of a moral or ethical obligation. Often, these are the result of an opportunity or direction from a trusted source; for example, a family doctor recommends training, and provides a subject with a CPR-coaching kit.
Third, is the altruist who believes they have a responsibility to be ready to help members of their family or immediate circle of friends and neighbours. This can evolve into, for reasons altruistic and selfish, to volunteer their knowledge and services to their broader communities.
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Pellegrino and Asselin assert that while the majority of first aid training participants belong to the first group, the most effective training outcomes belong to the smaller, but more engaged, altruistic cohort.
Why? Because they want it more.
The opportunity for first aid trainers: transition from obligation to altruism
This from the concluding remarks of Pellegrino and Asselin’s study:
“Strong evidence exists that making first aid a requirement motivates participation in education, along with meeting altruistic needs of some, to be prepared for emergencies, especially family and friends.
“After initial exposure to first aid education, there is a gateway opportunity to motivate people to continue to learn first aid in deeper contexts and / or regularly to maintain competencies…and more fully prepare them to respond appropriately through the other domains of the Chain of Survival behaviours.”
In other words: mandatory training may get people in the door – but once there, trainers have a chance to convince participants of why they, their families and their communities, need them to learn these life-saving skills.
Pellegrino and Asselin believed that through tailoring of coaching and experiences, first aid trainers could more effectively graduate participants from just doing it because they have to, to continuing their education because they want to make a difference.