Screening for atrial fibrillation – a cross-sectional survey of healthcare professionals in primary care

Conference: 
Talk Code: 
EP2F.03
Presenter: 
Jaspal Taggar
Co-authors: 
Tim Coleman, Sarah Lewis, Matthew Jones
Author institutions: 
University of Nottingham

Problem

Screening for atrial fibrillation (AF) in primary care has been recommended; however, the views of healthcare professionals (HCPs) are not known. This study aimed to determine the opinions of HCP about the feasibility of implementing screening within a primary care setting.

Approach

A cross-sectional census survey of 418 HCPs from 59 inner-city practices (Nottingham, UK) was conducted between October-December 2014. Postal and web-surveys ascertained data on existing methods, knowledge, skills, attitudes, barriers and facilitators to AF screening using Likert scale and open-ended questions. Responses, categorised according to HCP group, were summarized using proportions adjusting for clustering by practice with 95% C.Is, and free-text responses using thematic analysis.

Findings

At least one General Practitioner (GP) responded from 48 (81%) practices. There were 212/418 (51%) respondents; 118/229 GPs, 67/129 nurses [50 practice nurses; 17 Nurse Practitioners (NPs)], 27/60 healthcare assistants (HCAs). 39/48 (81%) practices had an ECG machine and diagnosed AF in-house. Non-GP HCPs reported having less knowledge about ECG interpretation, diagnosing and treating AF than GPs. A greater proportion of non-GP HCPs reported they would benefit from ECG training specifically for AF diagnosis than GPs [proportion (95% CI) GPs: 11.9% (6.8-20.0); HCAs: 37.0% (21.7-55.5); nurses: 44.0% (30.0-59.0); NPs 41.2% (21.9-63.7)]. Barriers included time, workload and capacity to undertake screening activities, although training to diagnose and manage AF was a required facilitator.

Consequences

Inner-city general practices were found to have adequate access to resources for AF screening. There is enthusiasm by non-GP HCPs to up-skill in the diagnosis and management of AF and they may have a role in future AF screening. However, organisational barriers, such as lack of time, staff and capacity, should be overcome for AF screening to be feasibly implemented within primary care.

Submitted by: 
Jaspal Taggar
Funding acknowledgement: 
The study was supported by an NIHR/School for Primary Care Research GP Career Progression Fellowship and Research Capability Funding from Nottingham City Clinical Commissioning Group.