Healthcare-seeking behaviour, barriers to care and predictors of symptom improvement among patients with cardiovascular disease in northern Tanzania.



Little is known about healthcare-seeking behaviour and barriers to care for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in sub-Saharan Africa.


Emergency department patients in Tanzania with acute CVD were prospectively enrolled. Questionnaires were administered at enrollment and 30 d later.


Of 241 patients, 186 (77.2%) had visited another facility for the same illness episode (median symptom duration prior to presentation was 7 d) and 82 (34.0%) reported that they were initially unaware of the potential seriousness of their symptoms. Of the 208 (86.3%) patients completing follow-up, 16 (7.7%) had died, 38 (18.3%) had visited another facility for persistent symptoms, 99 (47.6%) felt they understood their diagnosis, 87 (41.8%) felt they understood their treatment and 11 (7.8%) could identify any of their medications. Predictors of 30 d survival with symptom improvement included medication compliance (p<0.001), understanding the diagnosis (p=0.007), understanding the treatment (p<0.001) and greater CVD knowledge (p=0.008).


Patients with CVD in Tanzania usually visit multiple facilities for the same illness episode, typically after prolonged delays. Only a minority understand their diagnosis and treatment, and such understanding is correlated with survival with symptom improvement. Patient-centred interventions are needed to improve the quality of cardiovascular care in Tanzania.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Hertz, Julian T, Francis M Sakita, Godfrey L Kweka, Zak Loring, Nathan M Thielman, Gloria Temu and John A Bartlett (2019). Healthcare-seeking behaviour, barriers to care and predictors of symptom improvement among patients with cardiovascular disease in northern Tanzania. International health, 14(4). p. ihz095. 10.1093/inthealth/ihz095 Retrieved from

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Julian T Hertz

Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine

Julian Hertz, MD, MSc, is an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine & Global Health. He graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and attended medical school at Duke University, where he received the Dean's Merit Scholarship and the Thomas Jefferson Award for leadership. He completed his residency training in emergency medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and his fellowship in Global Health at Duke.

Dr. Hertz's primary interests include global health, implementation science, and undergraduate and graduate medical education. Dr. Hertz's research focuses on using implementation science methods to improve cardiovascular care both locally and globally. His current projects involve developing interventions to improve acute myocardial infarction care in Tanzania, to improve management of hypertension among Tanzanians with HIV, and to improve post-hospital care among patients with multimorbidity in East Africa.

Dr. Hertz has received numerous awards for clinical, educational, and research excellence, including the Duke Emergency Medicine Faculty Teacher of the Year Award, the Duke Emergency Medicine Faculty Clinician of the Year Award, and the Duke Emergency Medicine Faculty Researcher of the Year Award. He has also received the Golden Apple Teaching Award from the Duke medical student body, the Duke Master Clinician/Teacher Award, and the Global Academic Achievement Award from the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine.


Zak Loring

Assistant Professor of Medicine

I am a cardiac electrophysiologist specializing in the treatment of heart rhythm disorders and management of cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs). My research utilizes signal processing of electrocardiographic data and novel analytic techniques to better phenotype patients and identify those for whom interventional electrophysiology procedures may be most beneficial. This includes predicting which patients with left bundle branch block may benefit from early cardiac resynchronization therapy or conduction system pacing. I also analyze population level data to identify patients at high risk for adverse sequelae of rhythm disorders who may benefit from early intervention.


Nathan Maclyn Thielman

Professor of Medicine

Broadly, my research focuses on a range of clinical and social issues that affect persons living with or at risk for HIV infection in resource-poor settings. In Tanzania, our group is applying novel methods to optimize HIV testing uptake among high-risk groups. We recently demonstrated that the Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE), a form of stated preference survey research, is a robust tool for identifying (a) which characteristics of HIV testing options are most preferred by different populations and (b) which tradeoffs individuals make in evaluating testing options. Building on more than a decade of productive HIV testing research in the Kilimanjaro Region, the next phase of our NIMH funded project will test the hypothesis that DCE-derived HIV testing options significantly increases rates of testing among groups at high risk for HIV infection. This work holds promise not only for optimizing HIV testing uptake in the Kilimanjaro Region, but also for applying novel tools in the service of translational epidemiology and implementation research.


John Alexander Bartlett

Professor of Medicine

My clinical investigation is focused on the pathogenesis and treatment of HIV infection and its complications, especially in resource-limited settings.

Key Words: HIV infection, AIDS, treatment strategies, treatment failure, co-infections, resource-limited settings

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