Objective: A number of studies have explored delayed help-seeking practices for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and have cited multiple intersecting factors which may play a role (e.g. attributing symptoms, age, gender, ethnicity and contextual influences). However, the pathway to diagnosis for suspected Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) symptoms in a Rapid Acess Chest Pain Clinic (RACPC) context is underexplored. The objective of this study was to explore patients’ help-seeking experiences of accessing RACPC services: from the point at which they notice and interpret symptoms to their decision to seek help from their GP, attend a RACPC, and receive a diagnosis
Interviews were conducted in RACPC at Queen Mary’s Roehampton Hospital, London, United Kingdom
Maximium Variation sampling was used to recruit 30 participants referred to a RACPC, including 15 men and 15 women utilising sampling dimensions of age, ethnicity and occupation.
Semi-structured interviews that focused on the patient experience of their pathway to diagnosis in RACPC. Thematic analysis was used to interpret the interview data.
The interpretation of symptoms was shaped by multiple factors; reluctance to seek help contributed to delay; with various factors acting as drivers as well as barriers to help-seeking; and referrals to RACPC were based on symptoms as well as patient need reassurance.
We found complex issues shaped the patient decision-making when accessing the RACPC, including making sense of symptoms and help-seeking practices. These findings can be used to develop health promotion literature to encourage early help-seeking and improve of RACPC services.