Peripheral arterial disease is a global health problem, affecting around 20% of people aged over 60 years. Whilst ankle-brachial pressure index (ABPI) is regularly used for diagnosis, it has a number of limitations, which have presented a need for alternative methods of diagnosis. Multi-site photoplethysmography (MPPG) is one such method, but evidence of acceptability of both methods is lacking. This study aims to describe and compare preferences and experiences amongst nurses and patients of ABPI and MPPG use in primary care. We used qualitative research methods in the context of a clinical diagnostic study comparing ABPI with MPPG. Use of ABPI and MPPG by 13 nurses were observed with 51 patients across general practice surgeries in North-East England in 2015/16. Follow-up semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 nurses and 27 patients. Data were thematically analysed. Two major themes were identified: (1) device preferences; (2) test discomfort and anxiety. There was a compelling preference for MPPG due to ease of use, speed of the test, patient comfort, and perceived device accuracy/objectivity. However some patients struggled to identify a preference, describing ambivalence to medical testing. ABPI was deemed uncomfortable and painful, particularly when the blood pressure cuff was inflated at the lower limbs. There was also evidence of anxiety amongst patients when their foot pulses were not identified using ABPI. Whilst ABPI is a non-invasive and routine procedure it was associated with a number of drawbacks in clinical practice. Nurses required considerable dexterity to employ the test, and it resulted in anxiety amongst some patients. Conversely, MPPG was deemed to be easier and quicker to use, and perceived to be less subjective. Should diagnostic accuracy and cost be comparable to ABPI, then the findings of this study suggest MPPG would be preferable to ABPI for patients as well as nurses.
Bibliographical noteCopyright: © 2019 Scott et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Scott, J., Lecouturier, J., Rousseau, N., Stansby, G., Sims, A., Wilson, L., & Allen, J. (2019). Nurses’ and patients’ experiences and preferences of the ankle-brachial pressure index and multi-site photoplethysmography for the diagnosis of peripheral arterial disease: A qualitative study. PLoS ONE, 14(11), [e0224546]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0224546