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  • 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017
  • Project No: 294
  • Funding round: FR 11
  • Musculoskeletal

Inspired by patients' experiences, the aim of our research is to investigate why a delay in the diagnosis of giant cell arteritis (GCA) may occur in primary care. We hope our research will benefit patients and the NHS by:

  • providing new information and resources to patients and general practitioners (GPs) to support quicker GCA diagnosis
  • reducing the number of patients who develop severe and life-altering symptoms.

Each year approximately 7000 people are newly-diagnosed with GCA (also known as temporal arteritis). GCA is an inflammation of the large blood vessels which mainly affects the arteries in the head and chest, including those supplying blood to the eyes. If GCA is left untreated, the most serious outcome of this condition is blindness. This occurs in up to 1 in 5 patients, but is extremely rare when treatment for GCA is started quickly. Prompt diagnosis by GPs is, therefore, critical in preventing vision loss. However, patients' may have vague and varied symptoms which make the diagnosis of GCA difficult. This can cause the GP to consider other conditions before GCA, resulting in delays in diagnosis and treatment. Little is known about the causes of delay in diagnosing GCA, and the impact of GCA on patients' lives.

To gain a detailed understanding from patients of why delays in GCA diagnosis occur, we will conduct two separate, but complementary packages of research:

  1. Work-package 1 (WP1) will be a large survey of people with GCA from general practices to collect a range of health information, including reasons for delays in GCA diagnosis.
  2. WP2 will involve detailed interviews by telephone with people with GCA to explore experiences of diagnosis and the impacts of GCA on people's lives. Participants will be recruited from the WP1 sample and through the Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteritis (PMRGCA) UK national charity (

Amount awarded: £ 21,401

Projects by themes

We have grouped projects under the five SPCR themes in this document

Evidence synthesis working group

The collaboration will be conducting 18 high impact systematic reviews, under four workstreams.