INR goal attainment and oral anticoagulation knowledge of patients enrolled in an anticoagulation clinic in a Veterans Affairs medical center

Jennifer W Baker, Kristi L Pierce, Casey A Ryals
Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy: JMCP 2011, 17 (2): 133-42

BACKGROUND: In January 2009, the Joint Commission implemented a National Patient Safety Goal (NPSG) for ambulatory care, NPSG 3E, intended to reduce harm associated with the use of anticoagulation therapy. The 2011 NPSG 3E encompasses 8 elements of performance, including requirements that each organization (a) provide education regarding anticoagulation therapy to staff, patients, and families and (b) evaluate its safety practices and take appropriate action to improve its practices. The Alvin C. York (ACY) outpatient anticoagulation clinic provides education to new patients and their families at the initial clinic visit, with follow-up reinforcement of education as needed throughout their care.

OBJECTIVES: To (a) assess the knowledge level of patients receiving warfarin therapy in an anticoagulation clinic using the validated Anticoagulation Knowledge Assessment (AKA) questionnaire and (b) examine the relationship between patient anticoagulation knowledge and anticoagulation control as measured by the international normalized ratio (INR).

METHODS: All ACY Veterans Affairs (VA) anticoagulation clinic patients seen during their routine visit within an 8-week recruitment period from February 2010 to April 2010 were asked to complete the AKA questionnaire. Upon voluntary consent, the questionnaire was completed by the patient either during the clinic visit or returned later by mail. Demographic and clinical data were manually extracted from the computerized patient record system and included age, gender, indication for and duration of anticoagulation therapy, goal INR range, and the 10 INR values preceding the date of consent. A passing score was defined as at least 21 correct responses on the 29-item AKA questionnaire (72.4% correct). Statistical analyses included comparisons of demographic and clinical characteristics for patients with passing versus failing scores, assessed with Pearson chi-square and Fisher's exact test, and bivariate analyses of INR control with anticoagulation knowledge, assessed with Spearman's rho correlation. INR control was defined by 3 outcome measures: number of INRs within therapeutic range, time in therapeutic range (TTR) calculated using the Rosendaal method, and standard deviation (SD) of INR values. Anticoagulation knowledge was assessed with 2 measures: total AKA score and count of correct answers to a subset of 15 AKA items deemed by the investigators to be relevant to INR control.

RESULTS: Of 447 patients enrolled in the anticoagulation clinic, 260 consented to participate in the survey, of whom 185 patients completed the AKA instrument (n=171 [92.4%] by mail) and were successfully matched to patient record system data. 178 (96.2%) respondents were male with a mean (SD) age of 68 (10.1) years. The majority of patients were undergoing anticoagulation treatment for atrial fibrillation (n=113, 61.1%) or deep venous/pulmonary thromboembolism (n=48, 25.9%). The majority of patients had been treated with warfarin for at least 1 year (n=162, 87.6%). Most patients had goal INR ranges of 2.0 to 3.0 (n=166, 89.7%). Of the 185 patients who completed the questionnaire, 137 (74.1%) achieved a passing score. The mean (SD) AKA questionnaire score was 78.1% (12.1%). There were 8 questions that were answered correctly by less than 70% of patients and identified as potential deficiencies in patient education. For the 167 patients who had been on warfarin therapy for at least 6 months and had 10 previous INR values, there was no significant Spearman's rho correlation between total number of correct questionnaire responses and INR control, defined as the count of the 10 previous INR values within goal range (rho =-0.022, P=0.776), TTR (rho=0.015, P=0.848), and SD (rho=0.047, P=0.550). There was also no significant relationship between number of correct INR-relevant responses and INR control by any of the 3 outcome measures (count in range rho=0.033, P=0.676; TTR rho=0.067, P=0.388; and SD rho=-0.029, P=0.708).

CONCLUSIONS: Although 74.1% of patients on long-term warfarin therapy achieved a passing score of at least 21 correct answers on the 29-question AKA instrument, there was no significant relationship between patient warfarin knowledge and INR control. Areas for improvement in patient education have been identified and procedures for educational modification are currently in development.

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