Introduction: Patient understanding of available therapies for atrial fibrillation (AF) is foundational to shared medical decision making and long term medication adherence. Yet, there is a paucity of data regarding the extent to which patients newly diagnosed with AF in routine community practice understand their options.
Hypotheses: 1) Understanding of warfarin, novel oral anticoagulants (NOAC), rhythm control therapy, cardioversion and radio frequency ablation changes little from baseline to 6 months and 2) treatment rates at 6 months are associated with patient understanding of therapies at baseline.
Methods: We analyzed survey data from SATELLITE, a substudy of new-onset AF patients enrolled at 56 US sites participating in the ORBIT-AF registry. Patients were surveyed at the baseline and 6 month follow up clinic visit using Likert scales. Agreement between time points was assessed with the McNemar test, and the relationship between understanding and treatment was assessed only for the subset not on treatment at baseline.
Results: Of 1000 patients enrolled in SATELLITE, 506 had 6-month survey data (data collection is continuing). Among these, the median age was 69.0 years (IQR 63.0 - 76.0) and 93.7% (474 of 506) were white. There was evidence of improvement in the self-reported understanding of warfarin and NOACs from baseline to 6 months, but not for rhythm control, ablation or cardioversion. The proportion reporting high understanding improved significantly for warfarin (p<.0001) and NOACs (p<.0001) from 47% (223 of 474) and 51% (245 of 481) at baseline to 60% (284 of 474) and 69% (332 of 481) at 6 months respectively (Figure 1). Patients with high understanding of the benefits of ablation (p=0.0005) and options for ablation (p=0.0093) at baseline were more likely to have this therapy at the 6 month follow up (N=590), but improved understanding was not associated with increased use of warfarin/NOACs (N=83) or rhythm control (N=444).
Conclusions: Patients with new-onset AF had improved self-reported understanding of some treatment options over the first 6-months from diagnosis; however, factors other than patient understanding may influence AF treatments received at 6 months. Patient understanding of AF treatments remains suboptimal at 6 months, and our results suggest a need for ongoing patient education.