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Development of the Pulmonary Hypertension Functional Classification Self-Report: a patient version adapted from the World Health Organization Functional Classification measure.

BACKGROUND: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is characterized by progressive limitations on physical activity, right heart failure, and premature death. The World Health Organization functional classification (WHO-FC) is a clinician-rated assessment used widely to assess PAH severity and functioning, but no equivalent patient-reported version of PAH symptoms and activity limitations exists. We developed a version of the WHO-FC for self-completion by patients: the Pulmonary Hypertension Functional Classification Self-Report (PH-FC-SR).

METHODS: Semistructured interviews were conducted with three health care providers (HCPs) via telephone to inform development of the draft PH-FC-SR. Two rounds of semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 US patients with a self-reported PAH diagnosis via telephone/online to elicit concepts and iteratively refine the PH-FC-SR.

RESULTS: HCPs reported that the WHO-FC was a useful tool for evaluating patients' PAH severity over time and for making treatment decisions but acknowledged that use of the measure is subjective. Patients in round 1 interviews (n = 6) reported PAH symptoms, including shortness of breath (n = 6), fatigue (n = 5), syncope (n = 5), chest pains (n = 3), and dizziness (n = 3). Round 1 patients identified challenges with the original WHO-FC, including comprehensibility of clinical terms and overlapping descriptions of class II and III, and preferred the Draft 1 PH-FC-SR over the original WHO-FC. After minor changes were made to Draft 2, round 2 interviews (n = 8) confirmed patients understood the PH-FC-SR class descriptions, interpreting them consistently.

CONCLUSIONS: The HCP and patient interviews identified and confirmed certain limitations inherent within the clinician-rated WHO-FC, including subjective assessment and overlapping definitions for class II and III. The PH-FC-SR includes patient-appropriate language, symptoms, and physical activity impacts relevant to patients with PAH. Future research is recommended to validate the PH-FC-SR and explore its correlation with the physician-assessed WHO-FC and other outcomes.

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