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June 1967

Motivation for Patient Delay

Author Affiliations

Syracuse, NY
From the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, State University of New York, Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;16(6):676-678. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730240032005

IT HAS BEEN persistently difficult to account for the fact that patients delay in seeking medical consultation for cancer symptoms.1-3 A common assumption has been that those delaying the longest are those who are most frightened by a symptom and afraid to face up to its implications. Relatedly, it has also often been assumed that the longest delayers are passive, poorly adjusted individuals with inadequate personality resources for coping with stress. However, the research literature is largely not supportive of either of these views. There is increasing evidence that the greater an individual's anxiety about a health matter, the more likely he is to recruit rather than avoid the consultation and assistance of others.4-7 In addition, it has turned out that the "good patient" who follows medical advice (and who presumably would be a short delayer) tends to be somewhat passive and dependent in his orientation. Apropos of

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