Empirical research examining the decision-making processes involved in the management of problematic signs and symptoms has either focused on a specific condition or examined more general decision rules. The problem with these approaches is the difficulty in identifying which elements are specific to certain complaints and which are more generally applicable. The study presented here shows a comparison of the processes involved in the decision to seek medical care for sufferers with different types of complaint. This comparison identified various different elements in the decision-making processes which were shown to have considerable implications for their pattern of help-seeking behaviour and their pathways to the hospital accident and emergency department.