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Women's help-seeking behaviour during a first acute myocardial infarction

Journal article
Authors Anna Gyberg
Lena Björck
Susanne Nielsen
Sylvia Määttä
Kristin Falk
Published in Scandinavian journal of caring sciences
Volume 30
Issue 4
Pages 670–677
ISSN 0283-9318
Publication year 2016
Published at University of Gothenburg Centre for person-centred care (GPCC)
Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Institute of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine
Pages 670–677
Language en
Subject categories Clinical Medicine


Studies indicate that the time from onset of symptoms to medical treatment has decreased in acute myocardial infarction (AMI). However, there are still variations indicating that women wait longer than men before making the decision to seek medical care. Multidimensional factors hindering and facilitating the decision have been identified in previous studies, though few have fully explored how social context affects women's expectations, interpretations and actions and so influences the decision-making process. The aim of this study was therefore to identify how women's experiences interacted and influenced the decision to seek medical care at their first AMI. Seventeen women, aged 38-75 years, were interviewed, at home or in the hospital, between June 2011 and May 2012. Grounded theory was used as a method, and data collection and analysis were carried out simultaneously. The results showed that before deciding to seek medical care, these women went through three defined but interrelated processes that together hindered their normal activities and made them act according to existential needs. The women's experiences of the progression of the disease, in terms of both symptoms and time, were very different, so they sought medical care at different times, sometimes life-threateningly late and sometimes before developing an AMI. Three mechanisms had to coincide if the women were to receive medical care. First, the women had to acknowledge their symptoms as something more than common bodily changes. Second, the healthcare system had to be accessible when the women made their decision to seek care. Third, the women must have come into contact with healthcare providers when the heart muscle had taken enough damage to measure.

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