Community pharmacy-based study of adherence to non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants.
This study aimed to assess implementation adherence (how well the patient’s actual intake matches the prescribed dosing regimen) to non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) and to explore experiences with and beliefs about NOACs in a real-world sample of long-term NOAC users.A cross-sectional observational study was conducted in home-dwelling adults who started taking a NOAC at least 1 year prior to inclusion. Pharmacy dispensing data were used to calculate the Medication Possession Ratio (MPR). Patients were recruited in 158 community pharmacies in Flanders, Belgium. They completed a questionnaire collecting basic characteristics and exploring self-reported adherence to NOACs (using the Medication Adherence Report Scale, MARS) and experiences with and beliefs about NOACs (using the Beliefs about Medicines Questionnaire, BMQ).A total of 766 patients (mean age 76.2±8.8 years, median CHA2DS2-VASc score 4 (IQR=3-4)) were included. The majority (93.5%) used NOAC for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation. The median MPR was 95.2% (IQR=87.8-99.7) which corresponds with half of the study population not taking their NOAC on at least 17 cumulative days per year. Almost 21% of participants reported non-adherence on the MARS (score <25), with unintentional non-adherence (forgetfulness) most frequently reported (15.4%). Although two-thirds of NOAC users indicated to experience adverse drug reactions, the BMQ demonstrated a positive attitude towards NOAC therapy, where necessity beliefs outweigh the concerns.Our data indicate that long-term NOAC users have high implementation adherence and a positive attitude towards NOAC therapy. However, taking into account patients’ thromboembolic risk and NOACs’ short half-lives, further optimisation of NOAC use seems warranted in this population.