Issue: 2016 > May > original article

Guideline-related barriers to optimal prescription of oral anticoagulants in primary care

A.L. Beukenhorst, D.L. Arts, W. Lucassen, K.J. Jager, S.N. van der Veer
AbstractFull textPDF


Guidelines provide recommendations for antithrombotic treatment to prevent stroke in people with atrial fibrillation, but oral anticoagulant prescriptions in Dutch primary care are often discordant with these recommendations. Suboptimal guideline features (i.e. format and content) have been suggested as a potential explanatory factor for this type of discordance. Therefore, we systematically appraised features of the Dutch general practitioners’ (NHG) atrial fibrillation guideline to identify guidelinerelated barriers that may hamper its use in practice. We appraised the guideline’s methodological rigour and transparency using the Appraisal of Guidelines, Research and Evaluation (AGREE) II tool. Additionally, we used the Guideline Implementability Appraisal (GLIA) tool to assess the key recommendations on oral anticoagulant prescription. The editorial independence of the guideline group scored highly (88%); scores for other aspects of the guideline’s methodological quality were acceptable, ranging from 53% for stakeholder involvement to 67% for clarity of presentation. At the recommendation level, the main implementation obstacles were lack of explicit statements on the quality of underlying evidence, lack of clarity around the strength of recommendations, and the use of ambiguous terms which may hamper operationalisation in electronic systems. Based on our
findings we suggest extending stakeholder involvement
in the guideline development process, standardising the layout and language of key recommendations, providing monitoring criteria, and preparing electronic implementation parallel with guideline development. We
expect this to contribute to optimising the NHG atrial fibrillation guideline, facilitating its implementation in practice, and ultimately to improving antithrombotic treatment and stroke prevention in people with atrial fibrillation.