Background: The incidence of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is growing across sub-Saharan Africa and many healthcare systems are ill-equipped for this growing burden. Evidence suggests that healthcare providers may be underdiagnosing and undertreating ACS, leading to poor health outcomes. The goal of this study was to examine provider perspectives on barriers to ACS care in Tanzania in order to identify opportunities for interventions to improve care.
Methods: Semistructured in-depth interviews were conducted with physicians and clinical officers from emergency departments and outpatient departments in northern Tanzania. Thematic analysis was conducted using an iterative cycle of coding and consensus building.
Results: The 11 participants included six physicians and five clinical officers from health centers, community hospitals and one referral hospital. Providers identified barriers related to providers, systems and patients. Provider-related barriers included inadequate training regarding ACS and poor application of textbook-based knowledge. System-related barriers included lack of diagnostic equipment, unavailability of treatments, referral system delays, lack of data regarding disease burden, absence of locally relevant guidelines and cost of care. Patient-related barriers included inadequate ACS knowledge, inappropriate healthcare-seeking behavior and non-adherence.
Conclusions: This study identified actionable barriers to ACS care in northern Tanzania. Multifaceted interventions are urgently needed to improve care.
Keywords: Tanzania; acute coronary syndrome; barriers to care; health education; health systems; sub-Saharan Africa.
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