Women with chest pain: Negotiating experiences of emergency department care

Cardiac disease is the number one killer of Canadian women. Research has shown that women and men have different experiences in the health-care system. Although emergency departments (ED) are often the first point of contact for women with cardiac symptoms, this setting has seldom been studied. Yet what happens during a visit to the ED may set the stage for later events. Treating heart attacks is highly time-dependent. If women get to an ED for treatment within four hours of the onset of symptoms, health professionals have a good chance of salvaging heart muscle that would otherwise be destroyed. Sheila Turris is investigating how experiences of emergency department care shape women’s decisions about seeking care in future situations. Specifically, she is examining how women arrive at the decision to seek treatment, and how they negotiate emergency care. This research may improve the quality of care women receive in emergency departments, helping to ensure women seek and get early, more effective treatment for signs of cardiac illness.