Testing a Model to Reveal the Predictive Mechanism of Care-Seeking Decisions Among Patients With Acute Myocardial Infarction

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Extensive research has been conducted to examine the factors affecting care-seeking decisions in patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Such a decision-making process is multifactorial, and its underlying mechanism is yet to be determined.


Our aim was to test a theoretically integrated model to identify the mechanisms underlying patients’ care-seeking decisions in the context of AMI.


On the basis of both empirical and theoretical evidence, we proposed that patients’ care-seeking decisions are driven by 2 sequential perceptual-cognitive processes concerned with illness labeling and interpretation, as well as the contextual influences of perceived barriers to care seeking and cues from others. A sample of 301 patients was recruited to test this model using structural equation modeling.


The model testing revealed good fit with the data (χ2 = 38.48, df = 30, P = .72; root-mean-square error of approximation = 0.03, normed fit index = 0.96, nonnormed fit index = 0.98, and comparative fit index = 0.99) and explained 46% of the variance in AMI care-seeking delay. Successful action relied on whether patients could correctly attribute the symptom experience to AMI, were aware of their own susceptibility to the condition, and had a good understanding of how the disease manifested itself. Lowering perceived barriers and positive cues from others in advising care seeking played favorable roles to promote care-seeking behaviors.


This integrative theoretical model is shown to be valid in explaining care-seeking delay among AMI patients and can guide the development of interventions to promote appropriate care-seeking behaviors among high-risk individuals.

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