Eur J Cardiovasc Nurs - (-) - [2022-06-08; online 2022-06-08]
To describe the perceptions of delay in medical care-seeking, when afflicted by an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) during the first wave of the pandemic. A qualitative descriptive study with an inductive approach. Fourteen semi-structured interviews were conducted, analysed by qualitative content analysis with a manifest approach. One category and six sub-categories emerged. The decision was reached when the health threat was perceived as critical, which made the earlier thoughts of the pandemic fade away. The risk of infection during medical visits caused fear of contracting the disease. This resulted in hesitation, neglect of symptoms, and avoidance of healthcare visits. Following recommendations from authorities and media about personal responsibility was motivated by fear, affecting the care-seeking. It appears that the COVID-19 pandemic raised the threshold for deciding to seek medical care when presenting with an AMI. The pandemic led to increased patient delay due to several reasons among which fear of contracting the disease was prominent. The emotion of fear was related to the external threat to one's own health, due to COVID-19, and not fear of symptoms related to an AMI. The media reporting the healthcare system as overloaded increased insecurity and may have had an influence on delay.