Reasons for refusing parenteral therapy: a qualitative study of patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension

Kellie Morland, Amresh Raina, Abigail Nails, Peter Classi, Martine Etschmaier, Robert P. Frantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While parenteral prostacyclin (pPCY) therapy, delivered either subcutaneously or intravenously, is recommended for pulmonary arterial hypertension patients with severe or rapidly developing disease, some patients refuse this treatment. This study aimed to understand, directly from patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension, why pPCY was refused and, in some cases, later accepted. Interviews were conducted with 25 pulmonary arterial hypertension patients who previously refused pPCY therapy (Group A: Refused/Never initiated (n = 9) and Group B: Refused/Initiated (n = 16)). Patients in both groups believed that pPCY could improve their symptoms, slow disease progression, and provide them a greater ability to perform activities. Reasons for refusal included concern over side effects and the perceived limitations of pPCY on daily activities. Group A perceived their decision as a balance between quality of life and prolonging life and most acknowledged they would reconsider pPCY if other treatment options were exhausted. Group B cited they initiated therapy due to a worsening of symptoms, disease progression, to improve quality of life, to be there for their family, or a desire to live. Following initiation, Group B indicated their experience met expectations with reduced symptoms, slowed disease progression, and perception of improved survival; concerns related to pPCY were described as manageable. Given the efficacy of pPCY therapy, clinicians should apply knowledge of these findings in clinical practice. Patients noted improvements to parenteral pump technologies to include smaller size, water resistance, and implantability may increase their acceptance of this modality. Development efforts should focus on technologies that increase the acceptance of pPCY when indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPulmonary Circulation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • epoprostenol
  • intravenous therapy
  • parenteral prostacyclin therapy
  • pulmonary arterial hypertension
  • pump therapy
  • quality of life
  • subcutaneous therapy
  • treprostinil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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