Understanding the Attitudes of Clinicians and Patients Toward a Self-Management eHealth Tool for Atrial Fibrillation: Qualitative Study

Background

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disorder and poses a growing disease burden worldwide because of an aging population. A multidisciplinary approach with an emphasis on patient education and self-management has been demonstrated to improve outcomes for AF through the engagement of patients in their own care. Although electronic tools (e-tools) such as apps have been proposed to provide patient education and facilitate self-management, there have been few studies to guide the development of these tools for patients with AF.

Objective

This study aims to explore the perceptions of patients and health care providers (HCPs) and their attitudes toward the use of e-tools for the self-management of AF. It also seeks to elicit the factors that contribute to these attitudes.

Methods

Semistructured qualitative interviews with HCPs and patients were conducted to understand the interpretations and expectations of an e-tool that would be used for the self-management of AF. Interview data were analyzed using an exploratory thematic analysis approach to uncover emergent themes and infer ideas of preferred features in a device. A modified technology acceptance model was developed as a framework to help interpret these findings. Data from the HCPs and patients were compared and contrasted.

Results

Both patients and HCPs thought that an e-tool would be useful in the self-management of AF. Although both groups favored educational content and monitoring of blood pressure, patients expressed more passivity toward self-care and an ambivalence toward the use of technology to monitor their medical condition. This appears to be related to factors such as a patient’s age, social support, and their attitudes toward technology. Instead, they favored using the app to contact their HCPs.

Conclusions

This study provides insights into significant differences in the attitudes of patients and HCPs toward the use of e-tools for self-care against their priorities. Understanding patients’ motivations and their needs are key to ensuring higher acceptance of such tools.