From Bodily Sensations to Symptoms: Health Care–Seeking Practices Among People Affected by Acute Coronary Syndrome

Kirsten Beedholm Poulsen, Lene Søndergaard Andersen, Vibeke Lorentzen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The reduction of prehospital delay for patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is widely discussed within cardiac research. Medically informed literature generally considers patient hesitancy in seeking treatment a significant barrier to accessing timely treatment. With this starting point, we conducted an interview study with people previously hospitalized for ACS and with the bystanders involved in their decision to contact the health care system. The analysis was conducted in two stages: first, a systematic extraction of key information; second, an in-depth analysis informed by medical anthropology. This led us to understand the prehospital period as an interpretation process where bodily sensations appeared as symptoms. Informants vacillated between sensations, knowledge, interpretations, and emotions as they struggled to preserve everyday ordinariness. They were led to contact the health care system by bodily discomfort rather than a rational decision to reduce risk. The paradigmatic implications from medical anthropology proved an important alternative to the medical paradigm.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)1651-1660
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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