Disease-Related Knowledge and Need for Revision of Care for Patients with Atrial Fibrillation: A Cross Sectional Study

Helga Ýr Erlingsdottir*, Auður Ketilsdóttir, Jeroen M. Hendriks, Brynja Ingadóttir

*Corresponding author for this work

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Purpose: To evaluate the disease-related knowledge of outpatients with atrial fibrillation (AF), and the relationship with health literacy and other background variables. Patients and Methods: In this cross-sectional survey study, conducted in Iceland, patients with AF scheduled for an electrical cardioversion or AF catheter ablation were recruited from a hospital outpatient clinic. They completed the validated Atrial Fibrillation Knowledge Scale (AFKS), a 11-item instrument (with possible score 0–10, 10 being the best knowledge) which evaluates knowledge pertaining to AF in general, AF symptom detection and AF treatment. Health literacy was assessed with the 16 item European Health Literacy Survey Questionnaire (HLS-EU-Q) and patients answered questions about their background. Data was analysed with parametric tests. Results: In total, 185 participants completed the questionnaire (mean age 63 ±10), 77% were male, 74% with previous electrical cardioversion and 76% were on non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOAC) medication. The mean score on the AFKS was 6.5 (±1.8). The best knowledge was concerning oral anticoagulation therapy (96% answered correctly) and the least knowledge was regarding responses to AF episodes (17% answered correctly). Patients with sufficient health literacy (52%) had better knowledge of AF (M 6.8 ±1.7 vs M 6.3 ±1.9, p = 0.05). Age, educational level, health literacy and AF pattern explained 22% of the variance in AF knowledge. Conclusion: Patients with AF have inadequate knowledge of their condition, potentially as a result of insufficient health literacy. AF knowledge may be improved using integrated management where patients are actively involved in the care and health literacy is considered in the provided patient education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2621-2630
Number of pages10
JournalPatient Preference and Adherence
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Erlingsdottir et al.

Other keywords

  • atrial fibrillation
  • health literacy
  • patient education
  • patient knowledge
  • self-care


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