Factors Affecting Patients’ Perception On, and Adherence To, Anticoagulant Therapy: Anticipating the Role of Direct Oral Anticoagulants

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Patient, 2017, 10 (2), pp. 163 - 185
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© 2016, Springer International Publishing Switzerland. The role of the direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) in practice has been given extensive consideration recently, albeit largely from the clinician’s perspective. However, the effectiveness and safety of using anticoagulants is highly dependent on the patient’s ability to manage and take these complex, high-risk medicines. This structured narrative review explores the published literature to identify the factors underpinning patients’ non-adherence to anticoagulants in atrial fibrillation (AF), and subsequently contemplates to what extent the DOACs might overcome the known challenges with traditional warfarin therapy. This review comprised a two-tier search of various databases and search platforms (CINAHL, Cochrane, Current Contents Connect, EMBASE, MEDLINE Ovid, EBSCO, PubMed, Google, Google Scholar) to yield 47 articles reporting patients perspectives on, and patients adherence to, anticoagulant therapy. The findings from the literature were synthesised under five interacting dimensions of adherence: therapy-related factors, patient-related factors, condition-related factors, social–economic factors and health system factors. Factors negatively affecting patients’ day-to-day lives (especially regular therapeutic drug monitoring, dose adjustments, dietary considerations) predominantly underpin a patient’s reluctance to take warfarin therapy, leading to non-adherence. Other patient-related factors underpinning non-adherence include patients’ perceptions and knowledge about the purpose of anticoagulation; understanding of the risks and benefits of therapy; socioeconomic status; and expectations of care from health professionals. In considering these findings, it is apparent that the DOACs may overcome some of the barriers to traditional warfarin therapy at least to an extent, particularly the need for regular monitoring, frequent dose adjustment and dietary considerations. However, their high cost, twice-daily dosing and gastrointestinal adverse effects may present additional challenges for patients and health systems. The review highlights the need to explicitly incorporate patients’ perspectives in decision-making processes for anticoagulant selection, to obtain optimum adherence and treatment outcomes. Further studies should explore resources that can better engage patients in decision making around the selection of anticoagulant therapy.
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