Self-management of oral anticoagulation

Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2014 Feb 7;111(6):83-91. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2014.0083.


Background: Properly dosed oral anticoagulation effectively prevents thromboembolic events. It is unclear whether adult patients with an indication for long-term oral anticoagulation can benefit from self-management in terms of patient-oriented endpoints and improved coagulation values.

Method: We selectively searched the Medline database for high-quality systematic reviews based on randomized controlled trials of self-measurement or self-management of oral anticoagulation, compared to standard treatment.

Results: We identified eight review articles based on overlapping sets of ran - domized clinical trials. In all of these systematic reviews, patients who performed self-measurement or self-management had a 40% to 50% lower rate of thromboembolic events; in six of them, the mortality was also significantly lower, by 30% to 50%. Subgroup analysis revealed that these effects were present exclusively in patients who performed self-management, and not in those who only performed self-measurement. None of the review articles revealed any difference in the frequency of severe hemorrhagic events. Quality of life and patient satisfaction were rated in five reviews, which, however, used different instruments, with the result that no clear conclusions could be drawn. All of the review articles documented an improvement in coagulation values, but information on statistical significance was mostly lacking.

Conclusion: Adults with an indication for long-term oral anticoagulation benefit from self-management, as compared to standard treatment with management of dosing by a physician. A limitation of this study is that the multiple review articles on which it is based were largely analyses of the same group of clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage*
  • Blood Coagulation Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Self Administration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Thromboembolism / diagnosis*
  • Thromboembolism / epidemiology
  • Thromboembolism / prevention & control*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anticoagulants