OBJECTIVES: Smartphone dispatch of volunteer responders for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) is implemented worldwide. While basic life support courses prepare participants to provide CPR, the courses rarely address the possibility of meeting a family member or relative in crisis. This study aimed to examine volunteer responders' provision of support to relatives of cardiac arrest patients and how relatives experienced the interaction with volunteer responders.
DESIGN: In this qualitative study, we conducted 16 semistructured interviews with volunteer responders and relatives of cardiac arrest patients.
SETTING: Interviews were conducted face to face and by video and recorded and transcribed verbatim.
PARTICIPANTS: Volunteer responders dispatched to cardiac arrests and relatives of cardiac arrest patients were included in the study. Participants were included from all five regions of Denmark.
RESULTS: A thematic analysis was performed with inspiration from Braun and Clarke. We identified three themes: (1) relatives' experiences of immediate relief at arrival of assistance, (2) volunteer responders' assessment of relatives' needs and (3) the advantage of being healthcare educated.
CONCLUSIONS: Relatives to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients benefited from volunteer responders' presence and support and experienced the mere presence of volunteer responders as supportive. Healthcare-educated volunteer responders felt confident and skilled to provide care for relatives, while some non-healthcare-educated volunteer responders felt they lacked the proper training and knowledge to provide emotional support for relatives. Future basic life support courses should include a lesson on how to provide emotional support to relatives of cardiac arrest patients.