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Transforming Atrial Fibrillation Research to Integrate Social Determinants of Health: A National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Workshop Report

Only modest attention has been paid to the contributions of social determinants of health to atrial fibrillation (AF) risk factors, diagnosis, symptoms, management, and outcomes. The diagnosis of AF provides unique challenges exacerbated by the arrhythmia’s often paroxysmal nature and individuals’ disparate access to health care and technologies that facilitate detection. Social determinants of health affect access to care and management decisions for AF, increasing the likelihood of adverse outcomes among individuals who experience systemic disadvantages. Developing effective approaches to address modifiable social determinants of health requires research to eliminate the substantive inequities in health care delivery and outcomes in AF. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute convened an expert panel to identify major knowledge gaps and research opportunities in the field of social determinants of AF. The workshop addressed the following social determinants: (1) socioeconomic status and access to care; (2) health literacy; (3) race, ethnicity, and racism; (4) sex and gender; (5) shared decision-making in systemically disadvantaged populations; and (6) place, including rurality, neighborhood, and community. Many individuals with AF have multiple adverse social determinants, which may cluster in the individual and in systemically disadvantaged places (eg, rural locations, urban neighborhoods). Cumulative disadvantages may accumulate over the life course and contribute to inequities in the diagnosis, management, and outcomes in AF. Workshop participants identified multiple critical research questions and approaches to catalyze social determinants of health research that address the distinctive aspects of AF. The long-term aspiration of this work is to eradicate the substantive inequities in AF diagnosis, management, and outcomes across populations.

Authors: Benjamin, Emelia J; Go, Alan S; Al-Khatib, Sana M; et al.

JAMA Cardiol. 2023 Feb 01;8(2):182-191.

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