How do patients define Raynaud's phenomenon? Differences between primary and secondary disease

Susan L Murphy, Alain Lescoat, Mary Alore, Michael Hughes, John D Pauling, Maya Sabbagh, Dinesh Khanna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (SciVal)


INTRODUCTION/OBJECTIVES: To examine how people define Raynaud's phenomenon (RP) based on their lived experiences and explore if differences exist depending on primary or secondary RP diagnosis.

METHOD: An international survey was sent to people with RP through health systems, foundations, and social media. Qualitative coding of responses to an open text question regarding one's own definition of RP was performed and themes were identified. The prevalence of themes among the sample and then comparisons between themes among people who self-reported primary versus secondary diagnosis of RP were performed.

RESULTS: There were 1345 respondents from 45 countries (mean age 51.5 years, 93% female) who defined RP in their own words; 17% reported primary RP and 83% reported secondary RP (69% of secondary RP was scleroderma-related, n = 927). Over half defined their RP by describing the body parts affected, color changes, pain, and triggers or situations in which an episode occurs. Patients with primary RP more frequently defined RP in terms of its impact on function/quality of life and pain compared to those with secondary RP (34.5% versus 25.3%, respectively, p=0.004; 54.0% versus 46.8%, p=0.05). Patients with secondary RP more frequently included specific body parts, color change, the management of attacks, and other digital vascular complications in their definition of RP.

CONCLUSIONS: We have identified differences in how people with primary and secondary RP define RP, in terms of how they feel and function. Our findings have implications for the domains of outcome measures for assessing RP within different patient populations. Key Points • Pain is more often mentioned in primary RP and color change in secondary RP. • Over 25% of patients included reduced the quality of life as part of their RP definition. • The concept of "attack" is used to define RP by only 2% of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1611-1616
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Rheumatology
Issue number4
Early online date24 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2021


  • Connective tissue diseases
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Scleroderma
  • Systemic sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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