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Keywords:

  • parental perspectives;
  • help-seeking behavior model;
  • muscular dystrophy

Abstract

Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy (DBMD) are allelic, X-linked recessive, neuromuscular disorders characterized by progressive loss of muscle function. Despite technological advances in diagnostic genetic testing, the mean age at diagnosis (4.7 years) has remained unchanged for decades. The purpose of the study was to characterize parental perceptions of the diagnostic process and identify factors that influence the timeline. Data collection for this qualitative study consisted of six individual and five group interviews. Participants (N = 30) included Hispanic, non-Hispanic black, and non-Hispanic white parents whose son was diagnosed with DBMD. The “help-seeking behavior model” provided an analytical framework to analyze the data. Parents did not move through help-seeking stages unidirectionally as described in other studies. Delays existed at each stage. We identified personal, familial, social, cultural, and provider factors that impeded earlier diagnosis. These barriers prolonged movement through a stage or led families to repeat previous stages. Results should initiate debate among system administrators, patient advocates, and healthcare providers regarding which barriers may be most modifiable and which interventions may reduce the time to diagnosis and limit parental emotional distress. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.