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Table of Contents
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 164-169  

Clinicians-related determinants of anticoagulation therapy and prophylaxis in Nigeria

1 Department of Medicine, Pharmacology/Therapeutics, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Nigeria
2 Department of Haematology and Immunology, Thrombosis and Bleeding Unit, University of Nigeria Enugu Campus/University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku-Ozalla, Enugu, Nigeria
3 Department of Medicine, Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Nigeria
4 Department of Internal Medicine, Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, Abakaliki, Nigeria
5 Department of Internal Medicine, Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Aba, Nigeria
6 Department of Medicine, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Nigeria
7 Department of Medicine, Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Nigeria
8 Department of Medicine, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital, Amaku Awka, Nigeria

Date of Web Publication16-Oct-2017

Correspondence Address:
Theresa Nwagha
Department of Haematology and Blood Transfusion, Thrombosis and Bleeding Unit, University of Nigeria Enugu Campus/University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku-Ozalla, Enugu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aam.aam_35_17

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Background: Thromboembolic and hypercoagulable diseases are common life-threatening but treatable problems in hospital practice. Fortunately, anticoagulation is an efficacious management practice indicated for arterial, venous, and intracardiac thromboembolism. Clinicians in developing countries may have gaps in their knowledge of anticoagulation therapy/prophylaxis which could affect their clinical decision. Objectives: The study examined the knowledge and attitude of clinicians to anticoagulation therapy/prophylaxis in some tertiary hospitals in Nigeria. Methodology: The study was a multicenter survey. A pretested questionnaire was administered to clinicians in six tertiary hospitals in Southeast Nigeria. Results: A total of 528 questionnaires were returned by 419 (79.4%) residents and 109 (20.6%) consultants. We observed significant abysmal knowledge and lack of awareness of direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) among most respondents irrespective of their job grades (P = 0.02, odds ratio [OR] 0.59, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.38–0.90). Their knowledge of anti-Xa assay as laboratory monitoring tool was also significantly inadequate (P = 0.001, OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.10–0.51). On statement analysis on their attitude to anticoagulation therapy/prophylaxis, “Do you think anticoagulation therapy/prophylaxis is clinically relevant” had the highest mean of 4.60, P = 0.01, and a high degree of agreement; while “Should hospital inpatient with > 3 days admission routinely receive anticoagulation/prophylaxis?” had the lowest mean of 2.27, P = 0.02, and a low degree of agreement. Conclusion: There is the need to upscale knowledge of anticoagulation agents and an attitude change to anticoagulation therapy/prophylaxis, especially on the DOACs through continuing medical education activities in emerging countries such as Nigeria.

   Abstract in French 

Contexte: Les maladies thromboemboliques et hypercoagulables sont des problèmes communs à la vie mais pouvant être traités dans la pratique hospitalière. Heureusement, l'anticoagulation est une pratique de gestion efficace indiquée pour le thromboembolisme artériel, veineux et intracardiaque. Cliniciens Dans les pays en développement, ils peuvent avoir des lacunes dans leur connaissance du traitement anticoagulant / prophylaxie qui pourrait affecter leur décision clinique. Objectifs: L'étude a examiné la connaissance et l'attitude des cliniciens en thérapie anticoagulante / prophylaxie dans certains hôpitaux tertiaires en Nigeria. Méthodologie: l'étude était une enquête multicentrique. Un questionnaire prétesté a été administré aux cliniciens de six hôpitaux tertiaires Nigeria sud-est. Résultats: Au total, 528 questionnaires ont été retournés par 419 (79,4%) des résidents et 109 consultants (20,6%). Nous avons observé Connaissance abyssale significative et manque de connaissance des anticoagulants oraux directs (DOAC) parmi la plupart des répondants indépendamment de leur travail Notes (P = 0,02, odds ratio [OR] 0,59, intervalle de confiance de 95% [IC] 0,38-0,90). Leur connaissance du dosage anti-Xa en tant que surveillance en laboratoire L'outil était également significativement inadéquat (P = 0,001, OR 0,23, IC 95%: 0,10-0,51). Sur l'analyse de la déclaration sur leur attitude à l'anticoagulation Thérapie/prophylaxie, “pensez-vous que la thérapie anticoagulante/la prophylaxie est cliniquement pertinente” a eu la plus forte moyenne de 4,60, P = 0,01 et une Degré élevé d'accord; Tandis que “un internat hospitalisé avec> 3 jours d'admission recevait-il régulièrement une anticoagulation / prophylaxie? La moyenne la plus basse de 2,27, P = 0,02 et un faible degré d'accord. Conclusion: il est nécessaire de développer la connaissance des agents anticoagulants Et un changement d'attitude à la thérapie anticoagulante/prophylaxie, en particulier sur les DOAC par des activités continues d'éducation médicale dans Pays émergents comme le Nigeria.
Mots-clés: prophylaxie anticoagulante, traitement anticoagulant, cliniciens, anticoagulants directs oraux

Keywords: Anticoagulation prophylaxis, anticoagulation therapy, clinicians, direct oral anticoagulants

How to cite this article:
Anakwue R, Nwagha T, Ukpabi OJ, Obeka N, Onwubuya E, Onwuchekwa U, Azubuike B, Okoye I. Clinicians-related determinants of anticoagulation therapy and prophylaxis in Nigeria. Ann Afr Med 2017;16:164-9

How to cite this URL:
Anakwue R, Nwagha T, Ukpabi OJ, Obeka N, Onwubuya E, Onwuchekwa U, Azubuike B, Okoye I. Clinicians-related determinants of anticoagulation therapy and prophylaxis in Nigeria. Ann Afr Med [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 Dec 7];16:164-9. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Thromboembolic and hypercoagulable diseases are common life-threatening but treatable problems in hospital practice. Fortunately, anticoagulation is an effective management practice indicated for arterial thromboembolism, venous thromboembolism (VTE), and intracardiac thromboembolism. VTE is a common but preventable cause of a considerable morbidity, mortality, and costs among hospitalized patients.[1] Several clinical trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of thromboprophylaxis in reducing the rate of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and fatal pulmonary embolism (PE) by >60%.[2] Following from these findings, guidelines have been published for the prevention of VTE.[3],[4] Unfortunately, VTE risk continues to be high among hospitalized patients, and this to a large extent is attributable to underutilization of thromboprophylaxis according to data from the ENDORSE study.[5]

Several randomized clinical trials have shown that anticoagulant therapy decreases the incidence of thromboembolism by about 70% in patients with chronic atrial fibrillation (AF).[6],[7],[8],[9] This benefit was accompanied by a relatively low annual bleeding rate. Consequently, most evidence-based guidelines recommend anticoagulation therapy for chronic AF, with the provision that this must be individualized according to each patient's risk for thromboembolism.[10],[11] However, anticoagulation therapy tends to be underutilized in chronic AF patients even in Western countries.[12] Physicians' knowledge and perceived risk of anticoagulants seem to be responsible for the reluctance of a good number of physicians to prescribe this therapy.

The most effective and economical approach to decreasing the burden of VTE is to prevent the development of DVT and PE in patients at high risk, including major orthopedic surgery,[13] moderate and high-risk general surgery patients,[14] and acutely ill hospitalized medical patients.[15] The implementation of international guidelines for the treatment and prevention of VTE remains suboptimal and results in patient morbidity and mortality, with a substantial economic burden.[16] Health-care providers in developing countries such as Nigeria may have significant gaps in their anticoagulation knowledge that could affect their decision to prescribe anticoagulation therapy.[17] Currently, there are no national guidelines on the use of anticoagulation in Nigeria.

The purpose of this present study was to examine the knowledge and attitude of clinicians on anticoagulation in some tertiary hospitals in Nigeria.

   Methodology Top

The present study is a multicenter cross-sectional survey of use of anticoagulants among clinicians in Southeast Nigeria. A pretested questionnaire was administered to clinicians in six tertiary hospitals in the Southeast of Nigeria; University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu; Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia; Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki; Abia State Teaching Hospital, Aba; Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi; Federal Medical Centre, Owerri; and Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital, Amaku, Awka. The questionnaire was designed to assess the knowledge and attitude of clinicians to anticoagulation therapy. To assess clarity and consistency of questions, a pilot study was done before the final draft was prepared. The questionnaire was administered consecutively on medical doctors in the participating centers.

Respondents were required to fill in their age, gender, number of years since graduating, specialty, or grade and then answer questions on the knowledge and attitude to anticoagulation therapy in their center. The name of the respondents and hospitals was not requested. Ethical approval was obtained from the institutions' ethics committee.

The Likert scale used was from Grades 1 to 5: 1 strongly disagree, 2 disagree, 3 neutral, 4 agree, and 5 strongly disagree. To determine the agreement degree, three levels were identified (high, medium, and low).

  1. The low-level agreement degree has a mean < 3and P < 0.05%
  2. The medium-level agreement degree has P > 0 when the mean < or > 3
  3. The high-level agreement degree has a mean > 3 and P < 0.05% and this is a favorable advantage.[18]

Descriptive statistics with counts and percentages were used to illustrate the results. The data were also analyzed using Fisher's exact test to detect any association between demographic profiles and anticoagulation knowledge and attitude. A P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS) software, version 18 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) was used.

   Results Top

Demographic characteristics

Clinicians sampled were from the six teaching hospitals located in Southeast Nigeria. Of 528 respondents, there were more males 378 (71.6%) than females 150 (28.4%). The clinicians who practiced for < 5 years were in the majority, i.e., 189 (35.8%), and those with 15–20 years, i.e., 46 (8.7%), were in the minority. The residents were in the majority 419 (79.4%) and the consultants were in the minority 109 (20.6%). Full demographic characteristics of the respondents are presented in [Table 1] and [Table 2].
Table 1: Years of practice and grade of the respondents

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Table 2: Summary of knowledge of anticoagulation agents

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Knowledge of anticoagulation

We have tabulated summary of the clinicians' response on questions testing their knowledge of anticoagulation; types anticoagulant agents used, indications for anticoagulation, laboratory monitoring tools, and differences between the conventional anticoagulant agents and the direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs). Their responses were tabulated against job grades [Table 3],[Table 4],[Table 5],[Table 6].
Table 3: Summary of the knowledge of indications of anticoagulation therapy

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Table 4: Summary of the analysis showing respondents knowledge on laboratory monitoring tools for anticoagulant agents

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Table 5: Summary of the analysis showing respondents knowledge on difference between warfarin and direct oral anticoagulants

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Table 6: Summary of the analysis of respondents' attitude to anticoagulation therapy

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We observed that most respondents irrespective of their job grades did not know about fondaparinux and the DOAC. There was a significant abysmal knowledge of the DOACs (P = 0.02, odds ratio [OR] 0.59, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.38–0.90) [Table 3]. Most respondents knew of the different indications for anticoagulation therapy/prophylaxis; this was not statistically significant [Table 4].

Majority of respondents had a significant knowledge of prothrombin test (P = 0.03*, OR 2.04, 95% CI 1.10–3.78). On the contrary, most also had a significant abysmal knowledge of anti-Xa assay, as a laboratory monitoring tool (P = 0.001***, OR 0.2, 95% CI 0.10–0.51) [Table 5].

On their knowledge of the difference between warfarin and the DOACs, there was numerous none responses to the questions, but analysis of responses received showed was a significant knowledge of reversal agent for warfarin (P = 0.03, OR 2.30, 95% CI 1.07–4.98). On the other hand, there was abysmal significant knowledge onset of action and multiple drug reactions as major differences between the warfarin and the NOACs (P = 0.01, OR 2.50, 95% CI 1.18–5.29 and P = 0.005, OR 3.20, 95% CI 1.32–7.70, respectively) [Table 6].

Attitude on anticoagulation

Based on results of the statement analysis as summarized in [Table 6], the variables were ranked according to the value of their mean. All, except one, variable had P < 0.05. The statement “Do you think anticoagulation therapy/prophylaxis is clinically important” had the highest mean of 4.60 and had a high degree of agreement. The statement “Should hospital inpatient with >3 days admission routinely receive anticoagulation?” had the lowest mean of 2.27 with P = 0.015 had a low degree of agreement.

   Discussion Top

Paucity of data on what the anticoagulation practices are in Nigeria negates any meaningful intervention being implemented. Our study showed that most clinicians knew of and were aware of the conventional anticoagulation agents; unfractionated heparin, warfarin, low molecular weight heparin, and fondaparinux. Our results were not consistent with a Brazilian survey done which showed that most emergency room doctors' knowledge of oral anticoagulants was low;[19] unfortunately, these groups of doctors were not reflected in our survey. Our findings regarding clinicians' knowledge and awareness with DOACs are consistent with other studies which had demonstrated similar incomplete knowledge among primary care physicians of guidelines for cardiovascular disease prevention in general.[20],[21],[22]

With the growing popularity of the DOACs among clinicians as standard of care in different categories of patient needing anticoagulation,[23] our study highlights this shocking evidence why most patients are not receiving these agents simply because some clinicians are not aware they exist or are available/accessible for use in the country. Lack of hospital policies on coagulation or any dedicated anticoagulation clinic at the different centers of the respondents may contribute to this low level of knowledge.

The absence of which encourages the plethora of clinician-specific treatment protocols some of which are still in the era when conventional anticoagulants (heparins and Vitamin K antagonists) were considered the drug treatment of choice for anticoagulation episodes. We observed a dearth of knowledge on the various clinical indications for anticoagulation practice. While majority of respondents agreed that conditions such as VTE, prolonged surgery, immobilization, and stroke required either anticoagulation treatment or prophylaxis, approximately more than half would not use anticoagulation therapy or prophylaxis in patients with malignancies and postoperative periods though this was statistically insignificant. Arguably though some malignancies[24] and postoperative conditions are more thrombogenic than others, again there is a low incidence of thromboembolic events in AF patients.[25] The absence of policies, hospital guidelines, or doctor utilization of available guidelines[26],[27] may play a major contributory role.

Inability to monitor the use of anticoagulation agents has been documented to be one of the reasons of poor use of anticoagulation agents in resource-poor nations like Nigeria.[28] Majority of the respondents were able to recognize prothrombin time (PT) and activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT) as some laboratory monitoring tools for anticoagulation therapy. This agreed with their response of heparin and warfarin as the highest known group anticoagulation agents among respondents.

On the other hand, most respondents did not know anti-Xa assay and dilute thrombin time are tests that could also be used to monitor anticoagulation use. It could not be determined if the few who knew about these agents knew the exact anticoagulation agents that these tests are used for it was not covered by the questionnaire. Another could be that these tests were not routinely ordered for like PT and APTT. Most treatment protocols and guidelines[29] updated regularly serve are clinicians aid in using the current evidence-based treatment protocol for anticoagulant therapy.

We found a high degree of agreement on the importance of commencement of anticoagulant therapy/prophylaxis as well as the positive impact of early commencement of anticoagulant therapy in stroke patients among clinicians studied. This would suggest that clinicians will be favorably disposed to these variables as policies or guidelines in their various institutions. On the contrary, our studies also showed that they had a low level of agreement on routinely placing hospital inpatients on > 3 days admission on anticoagulation prophylaxis and commencement of anticoagulation therapy preceding diagnosis of VTE. These could be responsible for the undocumented increase in VTE among hospital inpatients as well PE-related mortality resulting from late or no commencement of anticoagulation therapy in hospital in patients. A sharp contrast from studies of hospitals in the United Kingdom which showed a marked reduction in morbidity and mortality resulting from VTE of hospital inpatients.[27]

   Conclusion Top

Clearly, the study has shown that there is need for upscale knowledge attitude and practice of the use anticoagulation agents, especially the DOACs through well-articulated continuing medical education educational activities. This could be made more robust to involve other health-care personnel involved in anticoagulation practice. Similar efforts have been used recently to successfully improve adherence to cardiovascular guidelines in primary care.[30] A limitation of this study is the relatively small number of study participants and some subspecialties that were not reflected in this survey. However, the diverse perspectives of respondents provided a rich data set from which we highlighted the deficiencies in our anticoagulation practice. Social desirability bias is a potential limitation given that physicians may not be inclined to discuss their lack of familiarity with new medications.

We attempted to limit this risk by asking open-ended questions. In addition, it is ambiguous whether our findings can be applied across board to other subspecialties not reflected or other geopolitical zones of the country. To address this, a multicenter survey among physicians in our health system would help generate the necessary national data to that would bring out required changes.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6]


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