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Barriers to Cardiovascular Screening among Malay Women in East Coast Malaysia

Introduction: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of death among women worldwide. The major risk factors for CVD in women are similar to men. However, women often show different symptoms from men, which contribute to the under diagnosis of heart disease in women.

Objective: To understand the barriers for CVD screening among healthy pre and post menopausal women

Methods: A qualitative study was designed to explore and understand the barriers for CVD screening among the pre and post menopausal women in the East Coast of Malaysia. Data was collected using focus group discussions (FGDs). A total of eight FGDs were done among subjects from urban and rural areas. The interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and they were coded and analysed using NVivo 7 software.

Result: Majority of the participants claimed that the main reasons for not undergoing screening are being healthy and did not perceive themselves to have any disease. CVD was not considered as a major health issue among them as compared to breast cancer and cervical cancer. They perceived CVD as a men’s disease. They also agreed that the majority of health personnel in government clinics or hospitals are too busy handling sick patients and it was inappropriate to ask for screening if they are healthy. Other reasonsinclude concern in case they actually have CVD and lack of information on the availability of the preventive services in health facilities.

Conclusion: The barriers for CVD screening are similar to the other screening programmes. The concept of preventive health is new to our women. Barriers to CVD screening include lack of understanding about the disease and unfriendly environment in health facilities towards cardiovascular screening. Health seeking behaviour is dominated by illness concept which prevents them from seeing health care providers when they are well.

Author(s): Juwita S , Norwati D , Harmy MY , T Alina TI , Siti Hawa A

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