Barriers and facilitators to implementing coronary care networks in South Africa: a qualitative study

  • Willem Stassen
  • Lisa Kurland
  • Lee Wallis
  • Maaret Castren
  • Craig Vincent-Lambert
Keywords: Health care system; emergency care; cardiovascular disease.


Background: ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is on the rise in sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa consistently fails to deliver timely reperfusion to these patients, possibly due to under-developed coronary care networks (CCN).

Objectives: To determine the current perceived state of CCNs, to determine the barriers to optimising CCNs and to suggest facilitators to optimising CCNs within the South African context.

Methods: A qualitative descriptive approach was employed, by performing two structured in-depth and two focus group inter- views (n=4 and 5, respectively), inviting a purposely heterogeneous sample of 11 paramedics (n=4), doctors (n=5), and nurses (n=2) working within different settings in South African CCNs. Recorded interviews were transcribed verbatim and subjected to content analysis.

Results: Participants described an under-resourced, unprioritised and fragmented CCN with significant variation in perfor- mance. Barriers to CCN optimisation resided in recognition and diagnosis of STEMI, transport and treatment decisions, and delays. Participants suggested that thrombolysing all STEMI patients could facilitate earlier reperfusion and that pre-hospital thrombolysis should be considered. Participants highlighted the need for regionalised STEMI guidelines, and the need for fur- ther research.

Conclusion: Numerous barriers were highlighted. Healthcare policy-makers should prioritise the development of CCNs that is underpinned by evidence and that is contextualised to each specific region within the South African health care system.

Keywords: Health care system; emergency care; cardiovascular disease. 


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1680-6905