Global review of delay time in seeking medical care for chest pain: An integrative literature review

Kannikar Wechkunanukul, Hugh Grantham, Robyn Clark

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    32 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives The aim of this review is to summarise research from a range of countries describing the differences in time taken to seek medical care for chest pain and factors which contribute to delay times. Methods An integrative literature review was undertaken using the Medline, CINAHL and Scopus databases for publications between 1994 and 2014. Articles dealing with delay time, and the factors associated with delay time, were extracted from the literature. Results The search yielded 395 articles of which 205 full-text articles were assessed for eligibility. Finally, twenty-three articles met the inclusion criteria for the review. It was found that time to seeking treatment (delay times) varied between countries, ranging from 1.6 to 12.9 h, with a mean of 3.4 h. The mean delay times reported in all the selected studies were greater than the recommended time-frame for seeking treatment. As well, time to decision to seek treatment (decision time) was reported as a major component of delay time. Meanwhile, the utilisation rates of ambulance services ranged from 3.1% in Brazil to 61.0% in Australia. A majority of the reviewed studies reported on the factors associated with longer delay times, including old age, female gender, ethnicity, low education level, history of chronic disease, lack of knowledge of the symptoms, and underutilisation of ambulance services. Only three studies included a sub-analysis by ethnicity, reporting that ethnic groups had longer delay times than Caucasians. Conclusion Variability in delay times occurred across countries and within continents. The mean time taken to seek care for chest pain in the countries reviewed did not meet the recommended times according to international guidelines. Demographic and social factors, as well as cognitive and emotional factors, influenced delay times. Further research on these influencing factors is recommended, including the impact of ethnicity on patient's care-seeking behaviours for chest pain.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)13-20
    Number of pages8
    JournalAustralian Critical Care
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


    • Acute coronary syndrome
    • Chest pain
    • Delay time
    • Ethnicity
    • Seeking medical care


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