Objective: To evaluate current literature on predictors of pre-hospital delay among patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI).
Methods: Medline, CINHAL, and Psych Info databases were searched using keywords: attitude to illness/health, health beliefs, help/health seeking behavior, health behavior, psychosocial factors, treatment delay, socioeconomic factors, time factors, pre-hospital delay, and symptoms. These keywords were combined with AMI to identify literature published during 1995-2008.
Results: Twenty-six data-based research articles were identified. Delay varied across literature and median pre-hospital delay was often reported due to distribution skewness resulting from extremely prolonged values (1.5-15.2h). Six categories of predictors influenced pre-hospital delay; socio-demographic, symptom onset context, cognitive, affective/psychological, behavioral, and clinical factors. Pre-hospital delay was shortest when the decision to seek healthcare was facilitated by family members or coworkers and when symptoms suggestive of heart attack were continuous and severe.
Conclusion and practice implications: Developing interventions programs to reduce pre-hospital delay for high-risk patients is warranted. Because decision delay is the only modifiable part by intervention, it is recommended that future investigations and interventions attend to decision time as the primary variable of interest instead of combining it with transportation time. Moreover, content of patient education need to emphasize on symptom awareness and recognition, and prompt and proper patient actions for optimum results. Also, in order to eliminate sampling bias resulting from investigating surviving AMI patients, it is recommended that future studies incorporate data from both surviving and surrogates of non-surviving AMI patients.