Educational and behavioural interventions for anticoagulant therapy in patients with atrial fibrillation

Danielle Smith, Christian Borg Xuereb, Helen Pattison, Gregory Y.H. Lip, Deirdre A. Lane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Current guidelines recommend oral anticoagulation therapy for patients with atrial fibrillation who are at moderate-to-high risk of stroke, however anticoagulation control (time in therapeutic range (TTR)) is dependent on many factors. Educational and behavioural interventions may impact on patients’ ability to maintain their International Normalised Ratio (INR) control.
To evaluate the effects on TTR of educational and behavioural interventions for oral anticoagulation therapy (OAT) in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF).
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) and the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE) in The Cochrane Library (2012, Issue 7 of 12), MEDLINE Ovid (1950 to week 4 July 2012), EMBASE Classic + EMBASE Ovid (1947 to Week 31 2012), PsycINFO Ovid (1806 to 2012 week 5 July) on 8 August 2012 and CINAHL Plus with Full Text EBSCO (to August 2012) on 9 August 2012. We applied no language restrictions.
Selection criteria
The primary outcome analysed was TTR. Secondary outcomes included decision conflict (patient's uncertainty in making health-related decisions), percentage of INRs in the therapeutic range, major bleeding, stroke and thromboembolic events, patient knowledge, patient satisfaction, quality of life (QoL), and anxiety.
Data collection and analysis
The two review authors independently extracted data. Where insufficient data were present to conduct a meta-analysis, effect sizes and confidence intervals (CIs) of the included studies were reported. Data were pooled for two outcomes, TTR and decision conflict.
Main results
Eight trials with a total of 1215 AF patients (number of AF participants included in the individual trials ranging from 14 to 434) were included within the review. Studies included education, decision aids, and self-monitoring plus education. For the primary outcome of TTR, data for the AF participants in two self-monitoring plus education trials were pooled and did not favour self-monitoring plus education or usual care in improving TTR, with a mean difference of 6.31 (95% CI -5.63 to 18.25). For the secondary outcome of decision conflict, data from two decision aid trials favoured usual care over the decision aid in terms of reducing decision conflict, with a mean difference of -0.1 (95% CI -0.2 to -0.02).
Authors' conclusions
This review demonstrated that there is insufficient evidence to draw definitive conclusions regarding the impact of educational or behavioural interventions on TTR in AF patients receiving OAT. Thus, more trials are needed to examine the impact of interventions on anticoagulation control in AF patients and the mechanisms by which they are successful. It is also important to explore the psychological implications for patients suffering from this long-term chronic condition.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD0008600
Number of pages58
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2010

Bibliographical note

This review is published as a Cochrane Review in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 7. Cochrane Reviews are regularly updated as new evidence emerges and in response to comments and criticisms, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews should be consulted for the most recent version of the Review.’ Please include reference to the Review and hyperlink to the original version using the following format e.g. Smith, D. , Borg Xuereb, C. , Pattison, H., Lip, G. Y. H., & Lane, D. A. Educational and behavioural interventions for anticoagulant therapy in patients with atrial fibrillation. Cochrane database of systematic reviews. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD0008600. DOI:


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