To examine the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of self-testing and self-management of oral anticoagulation treatment compared with clinic-based monitoring.
Major electronic databases were searched up to September 2005.
A systematic review was undertaken of relevant data from selected studies. Results about complication events and deaths were pooled in meta-analyses using risk difference (RD) as the outcome statistic. Heterogeneity across trials and possible publication bias were statistically measured. Subgroup analyses (post hoc) were conducted to compare results of self-testing versus self-management, low versus high trial quality, trials conducted in the UK versus trials in other countries and industry versus other sponsors. A Markov-type, state-transition model was developed. Stochastic simulations using the model were conducted to investigate uncertainty in estimated model parameters.
In the 16 randomised and eight non-randomised trials selected, patient self-monitoring of oral anticoagulation therapy was found to be more effective than poor-quality usual care provided by family doctors and as effective as good-quality specialised anticoagulation clinics in maintaining the quality of anticoagulation therapy. There was no significant RD of major bleeding events between patient self-monitoring and usual care controls and pooled analyses found that compared with primary care or anticoagulation control (AC) clinics, self-monitoring was statistically significantly associated with fewer thromboembolic events. However, the reduction in complication events and deaths was not consistently associated with the improvement of AC; in some trials this may be due to alternative explanations, including patient education and patient empowerment. Also, the improved AC and the reduction of major complications and deaths by patient self-monitoring were mainly observed in trials conducted outside the UK. According to UK-specific data, for every 100 eligible patients, 24% would agree to conduct self-monitoring, 17 of the 24 patients (70%) could be successfully trained and able to carry out self-monitoring and only 14 of these (80%) would conduct long-term self-monitoring. Seven cost-effectiveness studies were identified and the study that provided the most relevant UK data found that patient self-management was more expensive than current routine care (417 pounds versus 122 pounds per patient-year) and concluded that using a cost-effectiveness threshold of 30,000 pounds per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained, patient self-management does not appear to be cost-effective. De novo modelling for this report found that the incremental cost per QALY gained by patient self-monitoring is 122,365 pounds over 5 years and 63,655 pounds over 10 years. The estimated probability that patient self-monitoring is cost-effective (up to 30,000 pounds/QALY) is 44% over a 10-year period. Wide adoption of patient self-monitoring of anticoagulation therapy would cost the NHS an estimated additional 8-14 million pounds per year.
For selected and successfully trained patients, self-monitoring is effective and safe for long-term oral anticoagulation therapy. In general, patient self-management (PSM) is unlikely to be more cost-effective than the current specialised anticoagulation clinics in the UK; self-monitoring may enhance the quality of life for some patients who are frequently away from home, who are in employment or education, or those who find it difficult to travel to clinics. Further research is needed into alternative dosing regimes, the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of patient education and training in long-term oral anticoagulation therapy, UK-relevant cost-effectiveness, the effectiveness of PSM in children, and the potential future developments of near-patient testing devices.