Pharmacists detecting atrial fibrillation in general practice: a qualitative focus group study.

Savickas, Vilius, Veale, Emma L, Bhamra, Sukvinder K, Stewart, Adrian J, Mathie, Alistair and Corlett, Sarah (2020) Pharmacists detecting atrial fibrillation in general practice: a qualitative focus group study. BJGP open, 4 (3). pp. 1-13. ISSN 2398-3795

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Atrial fibrillation (AF) affects up to 10% of people aged ≥65 years, yet a third of all cases remain undetected. Practice-based pharmacists are in an ideal position to facilitate opportunistic AF screening, while increasing general practice capacity at a time of workforce crisis.


To explore the perspectives of three stakeholder groups involved in the 'Pharmacists Detecting Atrial Fibrillation' (PDAF) study to elucidate the facilitators and barriers to pharmacist-led AF screening in general practice.


A qualitative study took place, comprising homogeneous focus groups with stakeholders in Kent, UK.


The stakeholder groups - patients, general practice staff (GPS), and clinical pharmacists (CPs) - were recruited using convenience sampling. Audio-recordings were transcribed verbatim and analysed using a deductive Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) approach.


Twenty-five patients, four pharmacists, and nine practice staff participated in six focus groups. Three main themes were identified: knowledge and awareness; prioritisation of resources; and environmental considerations. The public's lack of awareness of AF-related risks and pharmacist-led screening services was highlighted. Practice-based pharmacists were perceived as an underutilised educational resource which, together with novel electrocardiogram devices, enabled convenient access to screening while reducing GPs' workload. Participants agreed that AF screening should be incorporated into personalised health checks and at-risk groups should be prioritised, such as care home residents. Patients favoured the general practice environment over the community pharmacy where concerns of privacy, staffing, and commercialisation were raised.


The findings of this study support the introduction of pharmacist-led AF screening programmes in general practice surgeries. Commissioners should consider the added value of utilising CPs and focus on the delivery of AF screening within an integrated service.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: atrial fibrillation, mass screening, general practice, primary health care, pharmacists, qualitative research
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RS Pharmacy and materia medica
Divisions: Faculty of Health & Science > Department of Science & Technology
Depositing User: Alistair Mathie
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2021 09:58
Last Modified: 21 Jan 2022 09:53

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