DOI: 10.1177/23971983241235708 ISSN: 2397-1983

Attitudes and barriers to pulmonary arterial hypertension screening in systemic sclerosis patients: A survey of UK-based rheumatologists

María Paula Álvarez-Hernández, Yannick Allanore, Ivo Andrade, Maya H Buch, Gerry Coghlan, Francesco Del Galdo, Christopher P Denton, Dinesh Khanna, David G Kiely, John D Pauling, Sheila Ramjug, Michael Hughes
  • Immunology
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy


The objectives were to explore rheumatologists’ current clinical screening practices of pulmonary arterial hypertension in patients with systemic sclerosis in the United Kingdom and to identify barriers to screening and consider potential solutions.


A survey of 31 questions was developed and included six sections: clinician demographics, the importance of screening, screening practices, barriers to screening, treatment and patient education. The survey was disseminated among rheumatologists working in the United Kingdom.


Forty-four rheumatologists working in the United Kingdom participated in the study, and the majority completed all the questions. Around one-third (37.0%) worked in specialised systemic sclerosis units (university or general hospitals (54.5% and 45.4%, respectively)). The majority recognised that systemic sclerosis-pulmonary arterial hypertension is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Over half (60.0%) reported using the DETECT algorithm to screen for systemic sclerosis-pulmonary arterial hypertension, although other algorithms were also sometimes used. All of the respondents utilised transthoracic echocardiogram, and almost all (95.0%) performed pulmonary function tests for screening purposes. Various challenges and barriers were identified relating to systemic sclerosis-pulmonary arterial hypertension screening, with the difficulty in interpreting results from other hospitals and extended wait times for diagnostic tests being the most reported (76.0% and 74.0%, respectively). Most respondents agreed that access to key investigations (87.0%), ongoing clinician education (82.0%), multidisciplinary meetings (79.5%) and a better understanding of proposed screening algorithms (79.5%) could be potential solutions.


Screening patients with systemic sclerosis for pulmonary arterial hypertension is crucial to improve survival, but variable practices exist among UK rheumatologists. Solutions include educating healthcare professionals on guidelines, sharing information between centres and integrating care services.

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