Help-seeking behaviors of blacks and whites dying from coronary heart disease

Susan M Frayne
Sybil L. Crawford, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Sarah A McGraw
Kevin W Smith
John B McKinlay

Document Type Article


OBJECTIVES: This study sought to determine whether blacks and whites with life-threatening cardiac events differ in likelihood of help seeking, types of help sought, or likelihood of reaching the hospital before death.

DESIGN: Death certificates were used to identify all coronary heart disease-related deaths occurring in 1988-89 among 45- to 74-year-old, black and white, non-institutionalized residents of three contiguous inner-city districts in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. An informant was interviewed about the decedent's health status, access to care and pre-mortal help-seeking behaviors.

RESULTS: Among the 232 decedents analyzed, there were no racial differences in the likelihood of help seeking. Among those who sought help, there were no racial differences in the likelihood of reaching the hospital. However, blacks were more likely than whites to engage in two specific help-seeking behaviors: calling the 911 emergency system, and trying to reach an emergency room.

CONCLUSION: In an area where blacks and whites were similar with respect to socioeconomic status and access to care, race did not affect the likelihood of help seeking or the likelihood of succeeding in reaching the hospital before death.