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Interactional resistance between patients with atrial fibrillation and cardiologists in consultation on treatment with warfarin: the value of shared decision-making

Eleni Siouta, Berith Hedberg, Karl Hedman Karl Hedman, Anders Brostrom


Rationale: Atrial fibrillation (AF) increases the risk of stroke and it can be reduced by treatment with warfarin. Some patients consider that warfarin is a stressful treatment with undesired effects and the perceived barriers include unwillingness to take it. Knowledge of patients resisting warfarin treatment may be useful for the potential threat to maintaining shared decision-making in the consultation as a central tenet of person-centered medicine.

Aims and objectives: To identify how patients resist treatment with warfarin and how cardiologists respond to patients’ resistance. The co-constructive perspective of this work analyses the consultations by emphasizing the clinical communication strategies of both patients and cardiologists.

Method: Eleven videotaped consultations, in 4 different hospitals, were selected for analysis. Treatment interactions regarding warfarin between patients with AF and cardiologists were analysed, according to the methodology of conversation analysis.

Results: There were 4 types of resistance from patients for accepting treatment with warfarin. These included “Giving reasons for their resistance”, “Suggestion of another treatment option by the patient”, “Stating a treatment preference” and “Questioning or challenging the cardiologist’s treatment recommendation”. The cardiologists’ responses to the patients’ resistance included “Repeating the treatment recommendation”, “Negotiation with the patient”, “Providing additional information on the recommended treatment” and “Extending the explanation for the purpose of taking the treatment”.

Conclusions: By showing resistance, patients are thought to want to participate in their treatment decisions and an awareness of patients’ resistance to treatment enables cardiologists to address the patients’ experience-based views on their treatment and individual concerns as part of clinical strategies to increase the person-centeredness of medical intervention.


Atrial fibrillation, communication, patient choice, patient participation, person-centered medicine, resistance interaction, shared decision- making, warfarin

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