Prognostic models for predicting incident or recurrent atrial fibrillation: protocol for a systematic review

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BACKGROUND: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the arrhythmia most commonly diagnosed in clinical practice. It is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Prevalence of AF and complications of AF, estimated by hospitalisations, have increased dramatically in the last decade. Being able to predict AF would allow tailoring of management strategies and a focus on primary or secondary prevention. Models predicting recurrent AF would have particular clinical use for the selection of rhythm control therapy. There are existing prognostic models which combine several predictors or risk factors to generate an individualised estimate of risk of AF. The aim of this systematic review is to summarise and compare model performance measures and predictive accuracy across different models and populations at risk of developing incident or recurrent AF.

METHODS: Methods tailored to systematic reviews of prognostic models will be used for study identification, risk of bias assessment and synthesis. Studies will be eligible for inclusion where they report an internally or externally validated model. The quality of studies reporting a prognostic model will be assessed using the Prediction Study Risk Of Bias Assessment Tool (PROBAST). Studies will be narratively described and included variables and predictive accuracy compared across different models and populations. Meta-analysis of model performance measures for models validated in similar populations will be considered where possible.

DISCUSSION: To the best of our knowledge, this will be the first systematic review to collate evidence from all studies reporting on validated prognostic models, or on the impact of such models, in any population at risk of incident or recurrent AF. The review may identify models which are suitable for impact assessment in clinical practice. Should gaps in the evidence be identified, research recommendations relating to model development, validation or impact assessment will be made. Findings will be considered in the context of any models already used in clinical practice, and the extent to which these have been validated.


Original languageEnglish
Article number221
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2019


  • atrial fibrillation
  • incidence
  • model performance
  • model validation
  • prognostic model
  • recurrence
  • risk score
  • systematic review


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