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      The Health Buddies App as a Novel Tool to Improve Adherence and Knowledge in Atrial Fibrillation Patients: A Pilot Study

      , MSc 1 , 2 , , , MSc 1 , , MD, FESC 2 , , MD 2 , , MD, FESC 2 , , MD 2 , , MD, PhD, FESC 1 , 2 , , MD, PhD, FESC, FEHRA 1 , 3
      (Reviewer), (Reviewer), (Reviewer), (Reviewer)
      JMIR mHealth and uHealth
      JMIR Publications
      mHealth, anticoagulants, medication adherence, education, atrial fibrillation

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          Atrial fibrillation (AF) constitutes an important risk for stroke, especially in an ageing population. A new app (Health Buddies) was developed as a tool to improve adherence to non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) in an elderly AF population by providing a virtual contract with their grandchildren, spelling out daily challenges for both.


          The aim of this pilot study was to assess the feasibility and usability of the Health Buddies app in AF patients.


          Two workshops were conducted to steer app development and to test a first prototype. The feasibility of the finalized app was investigated by assessing the number of eligible AF patients (based on current prescription of NOACs, the presence of grandchildren between 5 and 15 years old, availability of a mobile phone, computer, or tablet), and the proportion of those who were willing to participate. Participants had to use the app for 3 months. The motivation of the patients to use the app was assessed based on the number of logins to the app. Their perception of its usefulness was examined by specific questionnaires. Additionally, the effects on knowledge level about AF and its treatment, and adherence to NOAC intake were investigated.


          Out of 830 screened AF patients, 410 were taking NOACs and 114 were eligible for inclusion. However, only 3.7% (15/410) of the total NOAC population or 13.2% of the eligible patients (15/114) were willing to participate. The main reasons for not participating were no interest to participate in general or in the concept in particular (29/99, 29%), not feeling comfortable using technology (22/99, 22%), no interest by the grandchildren or their parents (20/99, 20%), or too busy a lifestyle (12/99, 12%). App use significantly decreased towards the end of the study period in both patients ( P=.009) and grandchildren ( P<.001). NOAC adherence showed a taking adherence and regimen adherence of 88.6% (SD 15.4) and 81.8% (SD 18.7), respectively. Knowledge level increased from 64.6% (SD 14.7) to 70.4% (SD 10.4) after 3 months ( P=.09). The app scored positively on clarity, novelty, stimulation, and attractiveness as measured with the user experience questionnaire. Patients evaluated the educational aspect of this app as a capital gain.


          Only a small proportion of the current AF population seems eligible for the innovative Health Buddies app in its current form. Although the app was positively rated by its users, a large subset of patients was not willing to participate in this study or to use the app. Efforts have to be made to expand the target group in the future.

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          Most cited references24

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          Predictive validity of a medication adherence measure in an outpatient setting.

          This study examines the psychometric properties and tests the concurrent and predictive validity of a structured, self-reported medication adherence measure in patients with hypertension. The authors also assessed various psychosocial determinants of adherence, such as knowledge, social support, satisfaction with care, and complexity of the medical regimen. A total of 1367 patients participated in the study; mean age was 52.5 years, 40.8% were male, 76.5% were black, 50.8% graduated from high school, 26% were married, and 54.1% had income <$5,000. The 8-item medication adherence scale was reliable (alpha=.83) and significantly associated with blood pressure control (P<.05). Using a cutpoint of <6, the sensitivity of the measure to identify patients with poor blood pressure control was estimated to be 93%, and the specificity was 53%. The medication adherence measure proved to be reliable, with good concurrent and predictive validity in primarily low-income, minority patients with hypertension and might function as a screening tool in outpatient settings with other patient groups.
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            Interventions to enhance medication adherence in chronic medical conditions: a systematic review.

            Approximately 20% to 50% of patients are not adherent to medical therapy. This review was performed to summarize, categorize, and estimate the effect size (ES) of interventions to improve medication adherence in chronic medical conditions. Randomized controlled trials published from January 1967 to September 2004 were eligible if they described 1 or more unconfounded interventions intended to enhance adherence with self-administered medications in the treatment of chronic medical conditions. Trials that reported at least 1 measure of medication adherence and 1 clinical outcome, with at least 80% follow-up during 6 months, were included. Study characteristics and results for adherence and clinical outcomes were extracted. In addition, ES was calculated for each outcome. Among 37 eligible trials (including 12 informational, 10 behavioral, and 15 combined informational, behavioral, and/or social investigations), 20 studies reported a significant improvement in at least 1 adherence measure. Adherence increased most consistently with behavioral interventions that reduced dosing demands (3 of 3 studies, large ES [0.89-1.20]) and those involving monitoring and feedback (3 of 4 studies, small to large ES [0.27-0.81]). Adherence also improved in 6 multisession informational trials (small to large ES [0.35-1.13]) and 8 combined interventions (small to large ES [absolute value, 0.43-1.20]). Eleven studies (4 informational, 3 behavioral, and 4 combined) demonstrated improvement in at least 1 clinical outcome, but effects were variable (very small to large ES [0.17-3.41]) and not consistently related to changes in adherence. Several types of interventions are effective in improving medication adherence in chronic medical conditions, but few significantly affected clinical outcomes.
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              Identification and Assessment of Adherence-Enhancing Interventions in Studies Assessing Medication Adherence Through Electronically Compiled Drug Dosing Histories: A Systematic Literature Review and Meta-Analysis

              Background Non-adherence to medications is prevalent across all medical conditions that include ambulatory pharmacotherapy and is thus a major barrier to achieving the benefits of otherwise effective medicines. Objective The objective of this systematic review was to identify and to compare the efficacy of strategies and components thereof that improve implementation of the prescribed drug dosing regimen and maintain long-term persistence, based on quantitative evaluation of effect sizes across the aggregated trials. Data sources MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, the Cochrane Library, and PsycINFO were systematically searched for randomized controlled trials that tested the efficacy of adherence-enhancing strategies with self-administered medications. The searches were limited to papers in the English language and were included from database inception to 31 December 2011. Study selection Our review included randomized controlled trials in which adherence was assessed by electronically compiled drug dosing histories. Five thousand four hundred studies were screened. Eligibility assessment was performed independently by two reviewers. A structured data collection sheet was developed to extract data from each study. Study appraisal and synthesis methods The adherence-enhancing components were classified in eight categories. Quality of the papers was assessed using the criteria of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions guidelines to assess potential bias. A combined adherence outcome was derived from the different adherence variables available in the studies by extracting from each paper the available adherence summary variables in a pre-defined order (correct dosing, taking adherence, timing adherence, percentage of adherent patients). To study the association between the adherence-enhancing components and their effect on adherence, a linear meta-regression model, based on mean adherence point estimates, and a meta-analysis were conducted. Results Seventy-nine clinical trials published between 1995 and December 2011 were included in the review. Patients randomized to an intervention group had an average combined adherence outcome of 74.3 %, which was 14.1 % higher than in patients randomized to the control group (60.2 %). The linear meta-regression analysis with stepwise variable selection estimated an 8.8 % increase in adherence when the intervention included feedback to the patients of their recent dosing history (EM-feedback) (p < 0.01) and a 5.0 % increase in adherence when the intervention included a cognitive-educational component (p = 0.02). In addition, the effect of interventions on adherence decreased by 1.1 % each month. Sensitivity analysis by selecting only high-quality papers confirmed the robustness of the model. The random effects model in the meta-analysis, conducted on 48 studies, confirmed the above findings and showed that the improvement in adherence was 19.8 % (95 % CI 10.7–28.9 %) among patients receiving EM-feedback, almost double the improvement in adherence for studies that did not include this type of feedback [10.3 % (95 % CI 7.5–13.1 %)] (p < 0.01). The improvement in adherence was 16.1 % (95 % CI 10.7–21.6 %) in studies that tested cognitive-educational components versus 10.1 % (95 % CI 6.6–13.6 %) in studies that did not include this type of intervention (p = 0.04). Among 57 studies measuring clinical outcomes, only 8 reported a significant improvement in clinical outcome. Limitations Despite a common measurement, the meta-analysis was limited by the heterogeneity of the pooled data and the different measures of medication adherence. The funnel plot showed a possible publication bias in studies with high variability of the intervention effect. Conclusions Notwithstanding the statistical heterogeneity among the studies identified, and potential publication bias, the evidence from our meta-analysis suggests that EM-feedback and cognitive-educational interventions are potentially effective approaches to enhance patient adherence to medications. The limitations of this research highlight the urgent need to define guidelines and study characteristics for research protocols that can guide researchers in designing studies to assess the effects of adherence-enhancing interventions. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s40265-013-0041-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

                Author and article information

                JMIR Mhealth Uhealth
                JMIR Mhealth Uhealth
                JMIR mHealth and uHealth
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                July 2017
                19 July 2017
                : 5
                : 7
                : e98
                [1] 1 Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences Hasselt University Hasselt Belgium
                [2] 2 Heart Center Hasselt Jessa Hospital Hasselt Belgium
                [3] 3 University of Antwerp and Antwerp University Hospital Antwerp Belgium
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Lien Desteghe lien.desteghe@ 123456uhasselt.be
                Author information
                ©Lien Desteghe, Kiki Kluts, Johan Vijgen, Pieter Koopman, Dagmara Dilling-Boer, Joris Schurmans, Paul Dendale, Hein Heidbuchel. Originally published in JMIR Mhealth and Uhealth (http://mhealth.jmir.org), 19.07.2017.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR mhealth and uhealth, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://mhealth.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                : 28 January 2017
                : 6 May 2017
                : 28 May 2017
                : 13 June 2017
                Original Paper
                Original Paper

                mhealth,anticoagulants,medication adherence,education,atrial fibrillation


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