Research have shown that there are four stages of delay in seeking medical treatment even when the symptoms start to be develop in an individual.
This delay compromises of four stages which consist of; appraisal delay, illness delay, behavioural delay and medical delay. An individual will experience these four stages before they decide to proceed with seeking medical help which will put them at risk. This delay behaviour shows how much an individual may fear of getting medical treatment despite knowing the severity of the illness. Individuals with a higher sense of fear would avoid in seeking for immediate help thus it will put them at a higher risk as the illness might have reached at the last stage.
On the other hand, individuals with lower sense of fear would definitely seek medical help as soon as possible. In addition to that, this delay model behaviour acts upon an individual’s proactiveness to react upon the symptoms they might experience. The first stage is called appraisal delay whereby the time taken for an individual to clarify the symptoms they are experiencing to know if it is serious or not. Consequently, when an individual does not realize that their symptoms could be a serious one, they would take longer time to seek for help. However, figuring out whether it is a symptom that could lead to a serious illness is time consuming thus individuals should be more proactive to prevent from getting to the later stages that could worsen the condition.
This is the crucial stage as their decision will determine whether they will seek for medical help immediately or continue delaying the process even further which could then lead to the utmost severity of the illness. An example of appraisal stage would be: A lady who felt a small lump at the side of her breast. She thinks that the lump is a result of monthly cyclical changes and the symptom does not appear consistently. Thus, she will not feel the need to act upon the symptom and brush it off since the lump might disappear the next day and appear again a few days later.
Due to her decision, it will then increase the severity of her illness. The second stage is called illness delay which is defined as the time between recognising that an individual is ill and making a decision as to whether they should seek a medical treatment. When they have reached at this stage, they realized that they should seek for medical help as the symptoms could lead to a serious illness. An individual could do a research regarding the symptoms they are experiencing before realising the severity of it.
However, for them to start their research, it might take up to a few weeks or even months. Hence, after concluding that she might have breast cancer due to the small lump that may or may not consists of active cancer cells, she might be doing some research on the medicines or treatments that she could consume. As for the third stage, it is called behavioural delay which is defined as the time between deciding to seek medical treatment and taking actions to do so.
This stage also includes factors such as ensuring that an individual has enough knowledge regarding the type of treatment they should attend to. During this stage, there might still be some people who procrastinate on taking immediate actions to treat their illness. Based on the example I have provided earlier, the lady may not be so sure on who she should approach and finally gathered the courage to book an appointment with a general practitioner. Lastly, the last stage of the delay model is called medical delay. This stage is defined as the time between the patient making an appointment to the actual time when they first received medical attention. This is the stage whereby the lady called for an appointment but keeps on changing the date or time of her appointment which may be due to her busy schedule.
Hence, delaying the medical treatment process even further. Nonetheless, there are other factors that causes the delay which includes not being financially stable despite government subsidies and/or they might be afraid of the truth regarding the severity of their condition. In conclusion, everyone will go through these four stages of delay at a certain point in their life before taking necessary actions for the suitable treatment needed.
In addition, the amount of time taken for each individual to decide may differ depending on how severe they think their illness might be and how long they delay to seek for medical assistance to treat their illness. Therefore, everyone are strongly encouraged to reduce the amount of duration taken from the first stage to the fourth or the last stage to prevent their condition from worsening.