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Variation in reported incidence and outcome based on aggregated data is a persistent feature of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) epidemiology.
To investigate the extent to which patient-level analysis using core ‘Utstein’ variables explains inter-country variation between Sweden and the Republic of Ireland.
A retrospective cross-sectional comparative study was performed, including all Swedish and Irish OHCA cases attended by Emergency Medical Services (EMS-attended OHCA) where resuscitation was attempted from 1st January 2012 to 31st December 2014. Incidence rates per 100,000 population were adjusted for age and gender. Two subgroups were extracted: (1) Utstein - adult patients, bystander-witnessed collapse, presumed medical aetiology, initial shockable rhythm and (2) Emergency Medical Service (EMS)-witnessed events. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to identify predictors of survival following multiple imputations of data.
Five thousand eight hundred eighty six Irish and 15,303 Swedish patients were included. Swedish patients were older than Irish patients (median age 71 vs. 66 years respectively). Adjusted incidence was significantly higher in Sweden compared to the Republic of Ireland (52.9 vs. 43.1 per 100,000 population per year). Proportionate survival in Sweden was greater for both subgroups and all age categories. Regression analysis of the Utstein subgroup predicted approximately 17% of variation in outcome, but there was a large unexplained ‘country effect’ for survival in favour of Sweden (OR 4.40 (95% CI 2.55–7.56)).
Using patient level data, a proportion of inter-country variation was explained, but substantial variation was not explained by the core Utstein variables. Researchers and policy makers should be aware of the potential for unmeasured differences when comparing OHCA incidence and outcomes between countries.