Early defibrillation is an essential element of the chain of survival for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). Public access defibrillation (PAD) programmes aim to place automated external defibrillators (AED) in areas with high OHCA incidence, but there is sometimes a mismatch between AED density and OHCA incidence. This study aimed to assess whether there were any disparities in the characteristics of areas that have an AED and those that do not in England.
Methods: Details of the location of AEDs registered with English Ambulance Services were obtained from individual services or internet sources. Neighbourhood characteristics of lower layer super output areas (LSOA) were obtained from the Office for National Statistics. Comparisons were made between LSOAs with and without a registered AED.
Results: AEDs were statistically more likely to be in LSOAs with a lower residential but higher workplace population density, with people predominantly from a white ethnic background and working in higher socio-economically classified occupations (p<0.05). There was a significant correlation between AED coverage and the LSOA Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) (r=0.79, p=0.007), with only 27.4% in the lowest IMD decile compared to about 45% in highest. AED density varied significantly across the country from 0.82/km2 in the north east to 2.97/km2 in London.
Conclusions: In England, AEDs were disproportionately placed in more affluent areas, with a lower residential population density. This contrasts with locations where OHCAs have previously occurred. Future PAD programmes should give preference to areas of higher deprivation and be tailored to the local community.