An international study has shown that pharmacists felt more confident in supporting patients receiving vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) for example warfarin, compared to the more recently introduced non-vitamin k oral anticoagulants (NOACs).
The guidelines on the management of orally anticoagulated patients are continuously evolving, leading to an increased need for pharmacists to be fully integrated in care provision.
The objective of this study was to identify self-reported gaps in confidence among practicing pharmacists in the area of anticoagulation. Pharmacists in different work settings in different countries were involved. The study was a cross-sectional international survey that took place from October 2015 till November 2016 among pharmacists working in different settings to assess their level of confidence when delivering anticoagulants as well as to identify possible educational needs regarding this medication class.
Responses were received from 4212 pharmacists originating from 18 countries. Pharmacists’ level of confidence was significantly higher (p < 0.001) when advising patients on vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) versus non-vitamin K antagonists (NOACs). In general, hospital pharmacists displayed higher confidence levels compared to community pharmacists when advising patients on anticoagulation (p < 0.001). Two distinct patterns of confidence levels emerged relating to basic and advanced pharmaceutical care.
Pharmacists felt more confident in supporting patients receiving VKAs compared to the more recently introduced NOACs. With the increasing use of NOACs and the risks pertaining to anticoagulation therapy, the study concluded that it is essential to invest in education for pharmacists to address their knowledge gaps enabling them to confidently support patients receiving oral anticoagulants.