Effects of designated leadership and team-size on cardiopulmonary resuscitation: The Basel-Washington SIMulation (BaWaSim) trial

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Critical Care






Cardiopulmonary resuscitation; Leadership; Team behaviour


© 2018 Elsevier Inc. Objective: During cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), it remains unclear whether designating an individual person as team leader compared with emergent leadership results in better team performance. Also, the effect of CPR team size on team performance remains understudied. Methods: This randomized-controlled trial compared designated versus emergent leadership and size of rescue team (3 vs 6 rescuers) on resuscitation performance. Results: We included 90 teams with a total of 408 students. No difference in mean (±SD) hands-on time (seconds) were observed between emergent leadership (106 ± 30) compared to designated leadership (103 ± 27) groups (adjusted difference − 2.97 (95%CI -15.75 to 9.80, p = 0.645), or between smaller (103 ± 30) and larger teams (106 ± 26, adjusted difference 3.53, 95%CI -8.47 to 15.53, p = 0.56). Emergent leadership groups had a shorter time to circulation check and first defibrillation, but the quality of CPR based on arm and shoulder position was lower. No differences in CPR quality measures were observed between smaller and larger teams. Conclusions: Within this international US/Swiss trial, leadership designation and larger team size did not improve hands-on time, but emergent leadership teams initiated defibrillation earlier. Improvements in performance may be more likely to be achieved by optimization of emergent leadership than increasing the size of cardiac arrest teams.

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