Reports of long-term oral anticoagulant (OAC) therapy for atrial fibrillation (AF) reveal highly variable, and generally suboptimal estimates of medication persistence. The objective of this review is to summarize current literature and highlight important methodological considerations for interpreting persistence research and designing studies of persistence on OAC treatment.
Methods and results
We summarize differences in study methodology, setting, timing, treatment, and other factors associated with reports of better or worse persistence. For example, prospective compared with retrospective study designs are associated with higher reported persistence. Similarly, patient factors such as permanent AF or high stroke risk, and treatment with non-vitamin K oral antagonists relative to vitamin K antagonists are associated with higher persistence. Persistence has also been reported to be higher in Europe compared with North America and higher when the treating physician is a general practitioner compared with a specialist. We propose a framework for assessing and designing persistence studies. This framework includes aspects of patient selection, reliability and validity of measures, persistence definitions, clinical utility of measurements, follow-up periods, and analytic approaches.
Differences in study design, patient selection, treatments, and factors such as the countries/regions where studies are conducted or the type of treating physician may help explain the variability in OAC persistence estimates. A framework is proposed to assess persistence studies. This may have utility to compare and interpret published studies as well as for planning of future studies.