Comparing self-management of oral anticoagulant therapy with clinic management: a randomized trial

Ann Intern Med. 2005 Jan 4;142(1):1-10. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-142-1-200501040-00006.


Background: Control of oral anticoagulant treatment has been reported to be suboptimal, but previous studies suggest that patient self-management improves control.

Objective: To compare the quality of control and the clinical outcomes of oral anticoagulant treatment in self-managed patients versus patients following conventional management.

Design: Randomized, controlled trial.

Setting: University-affiliated hospital in Spain.

Patients: 737 patients with indications for anticoagulant treatment.

Intervention: The self-management group (n = 368) received simple instructions for using a portable coagulometer weekly and self-adjusting treatment dose. The conventional management group (n = 369) received usual care in an anticoagulation clinic (monthly measurement and control of international normalized ratio [INR], managed by hematologists).

Measurements: Percentage of INR values within the target range and major related complications.

Results: The median follow-up period was 11.8 months (range, 0.3 to 16.9 months). The unadjusted percentages of in-range INRs were 58.6% in the self-management group and 55.6% in the conventional management group (difference, 3.0 percentage points [95% CI, 0.4 to 5.4 percentage points]). Twenty-seven patients (7.3%) in the conventional management group and 8 (2.2%) in the self-management group had major complications related to anticoagulant treatment. The unadjusted risk difference for major complications between groups was 5.1 percentage points (exact 95% CI, 1.7 to 8.5 percentage points). Fewer patients had minor hemorrhages in the self-management group (14.9%) than in the conventional management group (36.4%). Fifteen patients (4.1%) in the conventional management group and 6 (1.6%) in the self-management group died (unadjusted risk difference, 2.5 percentage points [exact 95% CI, 0.0 to 5.1 percentage points]).

Limitations: The trial was performed at only 1 center and was not blinded. The dropout rate in the intervention group was 21%.

Conclusions: Compared with conventional management by an anticoagulation clinic, self-management of oral anticoagulant treatment achieved a similar level of control. Of note, major complications and minor hemorrhages were less common in the self-management group.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acenocoumarol / administration & dosage*
  • Acenocoumarol / adverse effects
  • Administration, Oral
  • Aged
  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage*
  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hemorrhage / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • International Normalized Ratio
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Care / standards*
  • Thromboembolism / prevention & control
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anticoagulants
  • Acenocoumarol