Treatment-seeking delay among women with acute myocardial infarction: decision trajectories and their predictors

Anne G Rosenfeld
Nursing Research 2004, 53 (4): 225-36

BACKGROUND: Women's delay in seeking treatment for acute myocardial infarction symptoms results in higher rates of mortality and morbidity for women.

OBJECTIVES: To describe decision trajectories used by women when experiencing symptoms of acute myocardial infarction, and to identify predictors of the decision trajectory used by women with acute myocardial infarction.

METHODS: A cross-sectional, descriptive design was used. The nonprobability sample included 52 women hospitalized for acute myocardial infarction. To elicit descriptions of decision making, focused, semistructured interviews were used in this mixed-methods study. Predictors of decision trajectories were measured with standardized instruments among the same women. Narrative analysis was used to examine the stories from the qualitative data and to identify decision trajectory types. Discriminant analysis was used to predict trajectory type membership.

RESULTS: The median delay time was 4.25 hours. Most of the women used one of two trajectory types: knowing (defined as those women who knew almost immediately that they would seek help, n = 25) and managing (those women who managed an alternative hypothesis or minimized their symptoms, n = 23). Discriminant analysis correctly classified 71% (chi [4] = 11.2; n = 48; p =.02) of the cases into trajectory types on the basis of four predictor variables: social support, personal control, heart disease threat, and neuroticism.

DISCUSSION: Women's behaviors during the period between onset of acute myocardial infarction symptoms and treatment seeking can be categorized into a small number of patterns termed decision trajectories. A profile of sociostructural and intrapersonal factors with potential for predicting behavior in relation to future coronary events was developed.

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