Patients’ beliefs about their health (and illness), medications and healthcare they receive are important determinants of whether
or not they accept recommended treatments; influence their coping responses in relation to their illness; make them adhere to recommended
therapy and ultimately affect health outcomes. Incorporation of patients’ preferences for therapy should now be considered an integral
part of the decision-making process.
This gradual shift in health-care practice from paternalistic to shared-decision making, whereby there is a two-way exchange of information
between the patient and healthcare provider and both are involved in the treatment decision, requires a reasonable level of understanding
and knowledge of the condition and its treatment by the patient. However, patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) often have poor
knowledge about their condition and the benefits and risks of AF and AF treatments. Physicians and other healthcare providers may have
doubts over a patient’s ability to adhere to certain treatment regimens, particularly oral anticoagulation, due in part to the lack of patient
knowledge, and this may be an important determinant of whether such treatments are even considered as therapeutic options. Further, patients
often hold misconceptions about AF and treatment options, which may act as barriers to their acceptance of the condition and adherence
This review will summarise the literature on the knowledge of patients about AF and its management, how patients’ values and preferences
can impact on their treatment choices, the ideal components of patient education, the impact of educational interventions on patients’
knowledge and perceptions of AF, and where appropriate highlight specific issues facing lone AF patients.