Background: After years of setting up public automated external defibrillators (AEDs), the rate of bystander AED use remains low all over the world. This study aimed to assess the public awareness and willingness of bystanders to use AEDs and to investigate the awareness on the Good Samaritan Law (GSL) and the factors associated with the low rate of bystander AED use. Methods: Using stratified random sampling, national telephone interviews were conducted using an author-designed structured questionnaire. The results were weighted to match the census data in Taiwan. The factors associated with public awareness and willingness of bystanders to use AEDs were analysed by logistic regression. Results: Of the 1073 respondents, only 15.2% had the confidence to recognise public AEDs, and 5.3% of them had the confidence to use the AED. Concerns on immature technique and legal issues remain the most common barriers to AED use by bystanders. Moreover, only 30.8% thought that the public should use AEDs at the scene. Few respondents (9.6%) ever heard of the GSL in Taiwan, and less than 3% understood the meaning of GSL. Positive awareness on AEDs was associated with high willingness of bystanders to use AEDs. Respondents who were less likely to use AEDs as bystanders were healthcare personnel and women. Conclusion: The importance of active awareness and the barriers to the use of AEDs among bystanders seemed to have been underestimated in the past years. The relatively low willingness to use AEDs among bystander healthcare providers and women needs further investigation.
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