Survey of ankle–brachial pressure index use and its perceived barriers by general practitioners in the UK

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Abstract

Background

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is often undetected until complications arise, despite it being a major healthcare burden and an independent risk factor for cardiovascular death and systemic atherosclerosis. Appropriate diagnostic tools are as important as clinical knowledge and skill to investigate patients for PAD. Currently, the ankle–brachial pressure index (ABPI) is the recommended diagnostic tool for PAD.

Purpose

We explore current opinions on ABPI by general practitioners (GPs) and the limitations to its implementation in primary care practice.

Methods

GPs attending a regional 1-day study event, were surveyed in October 2014. Survey questionnaires were placed at the top of each conference pack for each attendee. The survey questionnaire was modelled from the ankle–brachial index (ABI) usage survey questionnaire used in the PAD Awareness, Risk and Treatment: New Resources for Survival (PARTNERS) preceptorship study.

Results

All respondents were GPs, with a survey response rate of 77.1%. All respondents regarded ABPI as an important test, that is primarily performed by nursing staff (79.5%) in their respective GP surgeries. 70% and 97% of GPs found ABPI useful for the diagnosis of asymptomatic and symptomatic PAD, respectively. 69% of GPs regarded ABPI as a feasible test in primary care practice. Time constraints (84%), staff availability (89%) and staff training (72%) were cited as the main limitations to its use.

Conclusions

Targeted training of nursing staff may improve ABPI usage, although a less time-consuming test for PAD may be another option.

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