Table 4

Time to Presentation (TTP): factors that impacted on symptom appraisal and initial help-seeking across people diagnosed with lung cancer and those diagnosed with other conditions

Participants diagnosed with lung cancerParticipants diagnosed with other conditions
Factors that increased timeliness of help-seeking
 Symptom sign of acute illnessYou do the usual, you take your Lemsip's and your Beechams Powders and when it doesn't clear up after a week you think well you need some antibiotics or something slightly stronger. So that was when I went to the doctors (M, 75–79, smoking not recorded, 7 days)I went to the doctor actually quite quickly because I had to fly and I knew that I would have trouble in the aeroplane if I didn't get some medication (F, 50–54, ex-smoker, 14 days)
 Symptom caused concernI went up a slight slope, and when I got to the top I was absolutely panting and really short of breath. … And I sat till I got my breath back, then I carried on normally, but when I got back home, on thinking about it, it wasn't right, and so that was the trigger point (M, 70–74, ex-smoker, 15 days)I found myself very short of breath the onset was very quick and I thought ‘I don't think I should feel like this’, and I thought if I'm puffing like this rang the surgery and said ‘do you think you could make me an appointment for the next day because I'm really short of breath (F, 80–84, ex-smoker, 7 days, diagnosis not known)
 Influence of familyWife persuaded me to go to the doctor about it. I wasn't too worried about it, it wasn't significant to me (M, 75–79, ex-smoker, 10 days, diagnosis not known)It didn't get any better, it got worse. So (daughter's name) would say, mother, that cough is awful and husband was saying the same (F, 65–69, never smoked, 30 days, diagnosis not known)
Factors that prolonged TTP
 Competing responsibilitiesI was so damn busy, too busy to think of this…I was busy with all sorts of things, work and everything, and eventually I made the appointment (F, 70–74, ex-smoker, 50 days)It started about the end of October in Australia and I saw my doctor about, the Monday before Christmas, … the cough had got worst whilst I was away (F, 55–59, never smoked, 60 days)
 Misattribution of symptomsI thought it was my asthma getting worse because I was getting more breathless I honestly truly believed it was my asthma getting worse (F, 55–59, ex-smoker, 90 days)Breathlessness 2 or 3 months, but I mean it's just something which is coming on, so you don't get over concerned (M, 55–59, smoker, 60 days, diagnosis not known)
 Healthcare factorsI didn't go because I couldn't explain it. I thought I don't want to waste his time just saying “I've, somehow I feel a bit strange” or whatever it is (M, 75–79, ex-smoker, 56 days)Whenever I'm out of this situation (immigrant visa expired) then I will go and you know talk to the GP about it (M, 40–44, never smoked, 334 days, diagnosis not known)
  • F, female; M, male; TTP, time to presentation.