Socioeconomic variations in responses to chest pain: qualitative study

Helen Richards, M. E. Reid, G. C. Watt

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    68 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective To explore and explain socioeconomic variations in perceptions of and behavioural responses to chest pain.

    Design Qualitative interviews.

    Setting Community based study in Glasgow, Scotland.

    Participants 30 respondents (15 men and 15 women) from a socioeconomically deprived area of Glasgow and 30 respondents (15 men and 15 women) from an affluent area of Glasgow.

    Outcome measures Participants' reports of their perceptions of and actions in response to chest pain.

    Results Residents of the deprived area reported greater perceived vulnerability to heart disease, stemming from greater exposure to heart disease in family members and greater identification with high risk groups and stereotypes of cardiac patients. This greater perceived vulnerability was not associated with more frequent reporting of presenting to a general practitioner. People from the deprived area reported greater exposure to ill health, which allowed them to normalise their chest pain, led to confusion with other conditions, and gave rise to a belief that they were overusing medical services. These factors were associated with a reported tendency not to present with chest pain. Anxiety about presenting among respondents in the deprived area was heightened by self blame and fear that they would be chastised by their general practitioner for their risk behaviours.

    Conclusions Important socioeconomic variations in responses to chest pain may contribute to the known inequities in uptake of secondary cardiology services' Primary care professionals and health promoters should be aware of die ways in which perceptions of symptoms and illness behaviour are shaped by social and cultural factors.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1308
    Number of pages4
    JournalBritish Medical Journal
    Issue number7349
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


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