Background Patients diagnosed with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) are at an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, heart attack, and PAD progression. If diagnosed early, cardiovascular risk factors can be treated and the risk of other cardiovascular diseases can be reduced. There are clear guidelines on PAD diagnosis and management, but little is known about the issues faced in primary care with regards adherence to these, and about the impact of these issues on patients. Aim To identify the issues for primary care health professionals (HPs) and patients in PAD diagnosis and management, and to explore the impact of these on HPs and PAD patients. Design & setting Qualitative study conducted in a primary care setting in the North East of England. Data was collected between December 2014 and July 2017. Method Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with PAD register patients (n = 17), practice nurses ([PNs], n = 17), district nurses (DNs], n = 20), tissue viability nurses (n = 21), and GPs (n = 21). Results HPs’ attitudes to PAD, difficulty accessing tests, and patient delays impacted upon diagnosis. Some HPs had a reactive approach to PAD identification. Patients lacked understanding about PAD and some reported a delay consulting their GP after the onset of PAD symptoms. After diagnosis, few were attending for regular GP follow-up. Conclusion Patient education about PAD symptoms and risks, and questioning about exercise tolerance, could address the problem of under-reporting. Annual reviews could provide an opportunity to probe for PAD symptoms and highlight those requiring further investigation. Improved information when PAD is diagnosed and, considering the propensity for patients to tolerate worsening symptoms, the introduction of annual follow-up (at minimum) is warranted.
Bibliographical noteThis article is Open Access: CC BY license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
- Qualitative research
- General practice
- Primary care
- Peripheral arterial disease