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atrial fibrillation, patient education, patient preferences, qualitative research, self-management



  1. McCabe, Pamela J. PhD, APRN-CNS
  2. Kumbamu, Ashok PhD
  3. Stuart-Mullen, Lynette MS, APRN-CNS
  4. Hathaway, Julie MS, LPC
  5. Lloyd, Margaret MD, MBA


Background: People with a new diagnosis of atrial fibrillation (AF) require knowledge to build skills and confidence to engage in decision making for AF treatment and prevention of AF-related complications. Data to guide development of content and approaches that enable acquisition of knowledge to support effective self-management are lacking.


Objective: The aim of this study was to explore patients' values concerning the content of initial AF education, describe how providers delivered education, and identify patients' preferences for approaches to education.


Methods: We used a qualitative inductive approach. Twenty-five participants given a diagnosis of AF within 18 months of enrollment were recruited from midwest US healthcare system clinics. Data were collected using a semistructured interview guide and were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.


Results: Themes emerging were as follows: (1) important to know, (2) recollections of the how and what of education, and (3) preferences for educational resources. Participants highly valued providers' explanations that AF was not immediately life-threatening and did not require limitations to usual activities. This reassurance from providers decreased fear and then enabled participants to learn about AF management. Verbal explanations were the primary approach to delivering education, but participants consistently expressed preferences for receiving written information and videos to supplement verbal explanations.


Conclusions: Addressing emotional and quality of life concerns at the time of AF diagnosis reduced fear and was critical for enabling participants to attend to discussions about treatment and self-management. The value participants placed on written and video resources as an adjunct to verbal explanation suggests that providers should consider educational approaches beyond verbal explanations.