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What do our patients think they know about atrial fibrillation? … Is that asking the right question?
  1. Prashant Dattatraya Bhave
  1. Correspondence to Dr Prashant Dattatraya Bhave, Cardiology Section, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, 1 Medical Center Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA; pdbhave{at}gmail.com

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In their Heart publication, Kaufman et al1 analysed survey data examining patients’ self-reported understanding of various elements of care regarding their atrial fibrillation (AF). The authors used a cohort of patients recently diagnosed with AF from a substudy of the Outcomes Registry for Better Informed Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation (ORBIT) II registry. The authors found that on initial survey, about half of patients reported a high understanding of various elements of AF care, such as the benefits of taking blood thinner. Exceptions included ‘role of rhythm control’ (for which 70% of patients reported a high understanding) and ‘benefits of left atrial appendage closure’ (for which only 8% of patients reported a high understanding). Overall, patient self-report of understanding of various AF treatment modalities did improve somewhat between baseline and 6-month follow-up; however, there was also some regression—for instance, 15%–20% of patients who reported high understanding of the benefits of oral anticoagulation at baseline reported a downgrade in that level of understanding 6 months later. With the exception of catheter ablation, patients' self-perceived understanding of a given modality of AF care did not correlate to the frequency of use of that modality in their care.

This manuscript raises a number of important issues that are pertinent to the way that we care for patients with any chronic disease, not just AF. …

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