Disease understanding in patients newly diagnosed with atrial fibrillation


OBJECTIVES: To describe self-reported disease understanding for newly diagnosed patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) and assess (1) how disease understanding changes over the first 6 months after diagnosis and (2) the relationship between patient understanding of therapies at baseline and treatment receipt at 6 months among treatment-naïve patients.

METHODS: We analysed survey data from SATELLITE (Survey of Patient Knowledge and Personal Priorities for Treatment), a substudy of patients with new-onset AF enrolled in the national Outcomes Registry for Better Informed Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation (ORBIT) II registry across 56 US sites. Patients were surveyed at the baseline and 6-month follow-up clinic visits using Likert scales.

RESULTS: Among 1004 baseline survey responses, patients’ confidence in their understanding of rhythm control, ablation, anticoagulation and cardioversion was suboptimal, with ‘high’ understanding ranging from 8.5% for left atrial appendage closure to 71.3% for rhythm therapy. Of medical history and demographic factors, education level was the strongest predictor of reporting ‘high’ disease understanding. Among the 786 patients with 6-month survey data, significant increases in the proportion reporting high understanding were observed (p<0.05) only for warfarin and direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs). With the exception of ablation, high understanding for a given therapeutic option was not associated with increased use of that therapy at 6 months.

CONCLUSIONS: About half of patients with new-onset AF understood the benefits of oral anticoagulant at the time of diagnosis and understanding improved over the first 6 months. However, understanding of AF treatment remains suboptimal at 6 months. Our results suggest a need for ongoing patient education.

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Kaufman BG et al. Heart. 2017, 8 Aug. pii: heartjnl-2017-311800.