Importance and assessment of quality of life in symptomatic permanent atrial fibrillation: Patient focus groups from the RATE-AF trial

Jackie Jones, Mary Stanbury, Sandra Haynes , Karina Bunting, Trudie Lobban, A John Camm, Melanie Calvert, Dipak Kotecha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
83 Downloads (Pure)


Aims: To establish the extent and impact of symptoms in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), the importance of different aspects of quality of life (QoL), and how we should assess wellbeing. Methods: Focus groups of patients with symptomatic permanent AF in a trial of heart rate control; the RATE-AF trial randomised 160 patients aged ≥60 years with permanent AF and at least NYHA class II dyspnoea to either digoxin or beta-blockers. Patient and public representatives led the focus groups and performed all data acquisition and analysis, using thematic approaches to interpret patient views about QoL and its measurement. Results: Substantial impairment of health-related QoL was noted in 160 trial patients, with impact on all domains apart from mental health. Eight women and 11 men aged 61–87 years participated in the focus groups. Common themes were a lack of information from healthcare professionals about AF, a lack of focus on QoL in consultations, and a sense of frustration, isolation, and reduced confidence. There was marked variability in symptoms in individual patients, with some describing severe impact on activities of daily living, and profound interaction with comorbidities such as arthritis. Day-to-day variation in QoL and difficulty in attributing symptom burden to AF or other comorbidities led to challenges in questionnaire completion. Consensus was reached that collecting both general and AF-specific QoL would be useful in routine practice, along with participation in peer support, which was empowering for the patients. Conclusions: The impact of comorbidities is poorly appreciated in the context of AF, with considerable variability in QoL that requires both generic and AF-specific assessment. Improvement in QoL should direct the appraisal, and reappraisal, of treatment decisions for patients with permanent AF.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)666-675
Number of pages10
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2020


  • Assessment
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Focus group
  • Qualitative
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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