Aim: This paper is a report of a study to assess patient knowledge about atrial fibrillation, its determinants and evolution during 3 months after a visit to the emergency room.
Background: Atrial fibrillation is one of the most common single diagnoses in the emergency room, and care often results in treatment modifications after which most patients are discharged home.
Method: A knowledge test was developed to measure patients' knowledge of atrial fibrillation. Patient data from 200 patients were assessed by examining quartiles and medians. The statistical significance of changes was tested with the Sign test. A logistic regression model was built to identify variables possibly related to patient knowledge. The data were collected in 2003 in three emergency rooms in Finland.
Results: Patients had only moderate knowledge about atrial fibrillation in the emergency room, and their knowledge showed only limited improvement 3 months after the visit. They had best knowledge of the symptoms of atrial fibrillation and its effects on everyday life. There were gaps in their knowledge about this disease and how it is treated, including anticoagulation, detection of symptoms and when to seek treatment, both during the emergency room visit and 3 months thereafter. Male gender, previous atrial fibrillation diagnosis and sense of good coping with the disease were statistically significantly associated with better knowledge.
Conclusion: Informational support should be available for patients with atrial fibrillation during and after the emergency room visit. The knowledge test introduced in this paper could be developed to evaluate the educational needs of individual patients.