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Alternative Coping Strategies and Decision Delay in Seeking Care for Acute Myocardial Infarction

Zegrean, Mihaela MS, RN; Fox-Wasylyshyn, Susan M. PhD, RN; El-Masri, Maher M. PhD, RN

The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing: March-April 2009 - Volume 24 - Issue 2 - p 151-155
doi: 10.1097/01.JCN.0000343561.06614.92

Background and Objective: In attempting to manage acute myocardial infarction (AMI) symptoms, individuals often engage in coping strategies that cause them to delay seeking timely medical care. Review of the literature revealed that several coping strategies were examined in relation to AMI delay, but there were no studies investigating the extent of use of each coping strategy. The purpose of this study was to examine the extent of use of 15 coping strategies and their associations with the time taken to decide to seek medical care.

Subjects and Methods: Secondary data analyses were performed on a sample of 135 patients with AMI from Canada and the United States from whom data were collected via structured interviews. Descriptive analyses were used to identify the extent of use of alternative coping strategies. Spearman ρ was used to test the associations of these strategies with decision delay.

Results and Conclusions: The 3 most frequently used coping strategies were trying to relax, wishing/praying for symptoms to disappear, and discussing symptoms with someone. Nine coping strategies were significantly associated with decision delay. The findings of this study are useful in teaching patients about avoiding the use of coping strategies when faced with AMI symptoms. This can potentially help reduce delays in seeking care for AMI, which will result in better health outcomes for patients with AMI.

Mihaela Zegrean, MS, RN Staff Nurse, Windsor Regional Hospital, Windsor, Ontario.

Susan M. Fox-Wasylyshyn, PhD, RN Associate Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario.

Maher M. El-Masri, PhD, RN Associate Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario.

Corresponding author Mihaela Zegrean, MS, RN, 5565 Walker Rd, Windsor, Ontario, N0R 1L0 (

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.