The general objective of this study was to explore the challenges of establishing an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OOHCA) surveillance program in Canada. More specifically, we attempted to determine the organizational structure of the delivery of emergency medical services (EMS) in Canada, describe the cardiac arrest data collection infrastructure in each province and determine which OOHCA variables are being collected.
We conducted a national survey of 82 independent EMS health authorities in Canada. Methodology experts developed the survey and distribution using a modified Dillman technique. We distributed 67 surveys electronically (84%) and the rest by regular mail. We weighted each survey response by the population of the catchment area represented by the responding health authority (2004 census). Descriptive statistics are reported.
We received 60 completed surveys, representing a 73% response rate. The responding health authorities' catchment areas represented 80% of the Canadian population (territories excluded). Our survey results highlight a lack of common OOHCA data definitions used among health authorities, sporadic use of data quality assurance procedures, rare linkages to in-hospital survival outcomes and potential confidentiality issues. Other challenges raised by respondents included determining warehousing location and finding financial resources for a national OOHCA registry.
Results from this survey demonstrate that, although it is challenging, it is possible to collect OOHCA data and access in-hospital survival outcomes. Collaborative efforts with the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium and other potential provincial partners should be explored.