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Men ‘fear saving woman’s life may get them arrested’

Vital: But some men won’t step in PICTURE: GETTY

WOMEN are less likely than men to receive lifesaving first aid because bystanders fear they could be accused of inappropriate contact, according to research.

Men in particular think that carrying out chest compressions or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation could be misconstrued as sexual assault, a study found. People are also more likely to fear causing injury to a woman.

Dr Sarah Perman said: ‘It is important to realise CPR is lifesaving and should be rendered to collapsed individuals regardless of gender.’ Previous research has shown that women are less likely to receive CPR if they collapse in public. Dr Perman, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver, asked 54 people online to explain why that might be.

She and her team identified recurring themes. Men were twice as likely as women to raise concerns about causing injury or being accused of sexual assault. There was also poor recognition of women in cardiac arrest, specifically a perception that women are less likely to have heart problems, or could be over-dramatising.

The findings have been backed by a separate virtual reality study in which volunteers were placed in emergency scenarios in a busy city. If the virtual victim was a woman, people were less likely to do CPR or use an automated external defibrillator. Marion Leary, who led the research at the University of Pennsylvania, urged: ‘Doing something is better than doing nothing.’