Improving the management of atrial fibrillation in general practice: Protocol for a mixed methods study
de Lusignan S., Richard Hobbs FD., Liyanage H., Ferreira F., Tripathy M., Munro N., Feher M., Joy M.
Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is one of the commonest arrhythmias observed in general practice. The thromboembolic complications of AF include transient ischemic attack, stroke, and pulmonary embolism. Early recognition of AF can lead to early intervention with managing the risks of these complications. Objective: The primary aim of this study is to investigate if patients are managed in general practice according to current national guidelines. In addition, the study will evaluate the impact of direct oral anticoagulant use with respect to AF complications in a real-world dataset. The secondary aims of the study are to develop a dashboard that will allow monitoring the management of AF in general practice and evaluate the usability of the dashboard. Methods: The study was conducted in 2 phases. The initial phase was a quantitative analysis of routinely collected primary care data from the Oxford Royal College of General Practitioners Research and Surveillance Center (RCGP RSC) sentinel network database. AF cases from 2009 to 2019 were identified. The study investigated the impact of the use of anticoagulants on complications of AF over this time period. We used this dataset to examine how AF was managed in primary care during the last decade. The second phase involved development of an online dashboard for monitoring management of AF in general practice. We conducted a usability evaluation for the dashboard to identify usability issues and performed enhancements to improve usability. Results: We received funding for both phases in January 2019 and received approval from the RCGP RSC research committee in March 2019. We completed data extraction for phase 1 in May 2019 and completed analysis in December 2019. We completed building the AF dashboard in May 2019. We started recruiting participants for phase 1 in May 2019 and concluded data collection in July 2019. We completed data analysis for phase 2 in October 2019. The results are expected to be published in the second half of 2020. As of October 2020, the publications reporting the results are under review. Conclusions: Results of this study will provide an insight into the current trends in management of AF using real-world data from the Oxford RCGP RSC database. We anticipate that the outcomes of this study will be used to guide the development and implementation of an audit-based intervention tool to assist practitioners in identifying and managing AF in primary care.