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Causes of delay in seeking treatment for heart attack symptoms


  • Dracup, Kathleen
  • Moser, Debra K.
  • Eisenberg, Mickey
  • Meischke, Hendrika
  • Alonzo, Angelo A.
  • Braslow, Allan


With the advent of thrombolytic therapy and other coronary reperfusion strategies, rapid identification and treatment of acute myocardial infarction greatly reduces mortality. Unfortunately, many patients delay seeking medical care and miss the benefits afforded by recent advances in treatment. Studies have shown that the median time from onset of symptoms to seeking care ranges from 2 to 61/2 hours, while optimal benefit is derived during the first hour from symptom onset. The phenomenon of delay by AMI patients and those around them needs to be understood prior to the design of education and counseling strategies to reduce delay. In this article the literature is reviewed and variables that increase patient delay are identified. A theoretical model based on the health belief model, a self regulation model of illness cognition, and interactionist role theory is proposed to explain the response of an individual to the signs and symptoms of acute myocardial infarction. Finally, recommendations are made for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Dracup, Kathleen & Moser, Debra K. & Eisenberg, Mickey & Meischke, Hendrika & Alonzo, Angelo A. & Braslow, Allan, 1995. "Causes of delay in seeking treatment for heart attack symptoms," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 379-392, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:40:y:1995:i:3:p:379-392

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    Cited by:

    1. Schoenberg, Nancy E. & Amey, Cheryl H. & Palo Stoller, Eleanor & Drew, Elaine M., 2005. "The pivotal role of cardiac self-care in treatment timing," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(5), pages 1047-1060, March.
    2. Leviton, Laura C. & Finnegan, John R. & Zapka, Jane G. & Meischke, Hendrika & Estabrook, Barbara & Gilliland, Janice & Linares, Adriana & Weitzman, Elissa R. & Raczynski, James & Stone, Elaine, 1999. "Formative research methods to understand patient and provider responses to heart attack symptoms," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 385-397, November.
    3. Galdas, Paul M. & Johnson, Joy L. & Percy, Myra E. & Ratner, Pamela A., 2010. "Help seeking for cardiac symptoms: Beyond the masculine-feminine binary," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 18-24, July.
    4. Justin G. Trogdon, 2004. "Regionalization of Cardiac Services and the Responsiveness of Treatment Choices," School of Economics Working Papers 2004-03, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.
    5. Justin G. Trogdon, 2009. "Demand For And Regulation Of Cardiac Services," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1183-1204, November.
    6. Wyke, Sally & Adamson, Joy & Dixon, Diane & Hunt, Kate, 2013. "Consultation and illness behaviour in response to symptoms: A comparison of models from different disciplinary frameworks and suggestions for future research directions," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 79-87.
    7. Fukuoka, Yoshimi & Dracup, Kathleen & Rankin, Sally H. & Froelicher, Erika Sivarajan & Kobayashi, Fumio & Hirayama, Haro & Ohno, Miyoshi & Matsumoto, David, 2005. "Prehospital delay and independent/interdependent construal of self among Japanese patients with acute myocardial infarction," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(9), pages 2025-2034, May.

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