The effect of a case-finding app on the detection rate of atrial fibrillation compared with opportunistic screening in primary care patients: protocol for a cluster randomized trial

Trials. 2021 Aug 9;22(1):525. doi: 10.1186/s13063-021-05497-x.


Background: Atrial fibrillation is a cardiac arrhythmia commonly encountered in a primary care setting. Current screening is limited to pulse palpation and ECG confirmation when an irregular pulse is found. Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation will, however, still be difficult to pick up. With the advent of smartphones, screening could be more cost-efficient by making use of simple applications, lowering the need for intensive screening to discover (paroxysmal) atrial fibrillation.

Methods/design: This cluster randomized trial will examine the effect of using a smartphone-based application such as FibriCheck® on the detection rate of atrial fibrillation in a Flemish general practice population. This study will be conducted in 22 primary care practices across the Flanders region of Belgium and will last 12 months. Patients above 65 years of age will be divided in control and intervention groups on the practice level. The control group will be subjected to standard opportunistic screening only, while the intervention group will be prescribed the FibriCheck® app on top of this opportunistic screening. The difference in detection rate between control and intervention groups will be calculated at the end of the study. We will use the online platform INTEGO for pseudonymized data collection and analysis, and risk calculation.

Discussion: Smartphone applications might offer a way to cost-effectively screen for (paroxysmal) atrial fibrillation in a primary care setting. This could open the door for the update of future screening guidelines.

Trial registration: NCT04545723 . Registered on September 10, 2020.

Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; Case finding; FibriCheck®; Screening.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol

MeSH terms

  • Atrial Fibrillation* / diagnosis
  • Electrocardiography
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Primary Health Care
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic

Associated data