Adult PKU Clinics in the UK—Users’ Experiences and Perspectives

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ILGAZ F., Ford S., O’Driscoll M. F., MacDonald A.

Nutrients, vol.15, no.20, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 15 Issue: 20
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/nu15204352
  • Journal Name: Nutrients
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: adults, clinic, diet, follow-up, Phenylketonuria, PKU, survey
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Adults with PKU require life-long management, and ideally, their care should be in a specialised adult metabolic clinic. Their outcomes and co-morbidities have received much attention, but data are lacking on their experience, satisfaction and expectations about the care they receive. This survey reports the experiences and care adults with PKU receive from specialist metabolic clinics in the UK. The online survey developed by the UK NSPKU (National Society for Phenylketonuria), was placed on the NSPKU website from February 2021 to December 2022, and was completed by adults with PKU (≥18 years) or their carers/family members. Sixty-five adult PKU patients and 9 caregivers of adult patients completed the questionnaire (63% female in total). Only 32% of respondents were following a Phe-restricted diet with protein substitute intake as prescribed; the rest were partially adherent or not on dietary restrictions. Nineteen per cent (n = 14/74) had not been reviewed in clinic for two years. Half of the respondents (50%) described their experience in adult clinics as “good”. Half of the patients were unable to contact their dietitians with questions or concerns, and only 24% considered that they received adequate support. Clinic reviews usually included anthropometric (82%) and dietary assessments (64%), discussion on management of PKU in daily life (78%) and a blood test (71%). Eighty-eight per cent reported they had at least one neurocognitive, mental health or behavioural co-morbidity but less than half of the patients reported an assessment on their neurocognitive functioning or mental health issues. Adult male patients appeared to have less detailed clinic review than females. Less than half (44%) of the respondents reported that they performed a blood spot for blood Phe at least monthly, but only 32% considered they had been informed about the risk of high Phe levels in adulthood. Although time, cost and stress related to travelling were barriers to a face-to-face review, more than 40% of patients had concerns about remote appointments. The frequency and extent of monitoring of adults with PKU, attending specialist adult services, were less than those specified by the PKU European guidelines. The care of women of reproductive age is prioritised over men. Adult metabolic health services require further attention, development and resources to provide a high standard and equitable service to patients with PKU.