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AIM: To review qualitative studies on the experience of sudden cardiac arrest survival from the perspective of both survivors and their key supporters, including family/close friends. METHODS: A seven-step meta-ethnography and synthesis of qualitative evidence was undertaken, informed by the Meta-Ethnography Reporting Guidelines (eMERGe). Four major databases were searched (Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO; January 1995-January 2022, updated July 2023) for qualitative studies exploring survivors' and/or key supporters' experiences of cardiac arrest survival. The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme checklist and Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation - Confidence in Evidence from Reviews of Qualitative Research (GRADE-CERQual) were applied to evaluate the overall confidence in research findings. Constructs were identified from each paper, informing theme and sub-theme development. RESULTS: From 15,917 unique titles/abstracts and 196 full-text articles, 32 met the inclusion criteria. Three themes captured the survivors' experiences: 1) Making sense of my cardiac arrest; 2) Learning to trust my body and mind; and 3) Re-evaluating my life. A further three themes reflected key supporters' experiences: 1) Emotional turmoil; 2) Becoming a carer: same person but different me; and 3) Engaging with a new and unknown world. However, limited data and some methodological weaknesses in included studies reduced confidence in several themes. The findings were conceived within the overarching concept of 'negotiating a new normal'. CONCLUSIONS: The enduring psychosocial and physical sequelae of cardiac arrest survival substantially impacts the lives of survivors and their key supporters, requiring negotiation of their 'new normality'. The need for sense-making, physical and psychological recovery, and the new roles for key supporters should be strong considerations in the development of future interventions.

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Cardiac arrest, Co-survivor, Experience, Families, Key supporter, Meta-ethnography, Qualitative evidence synthesis, Survivor