Background: Advanced care planning (ACP) is a process that involves thinking about what medical care one would like should individuals be seriously ill and cannot communicate decisions about treatment for themselves. The literature indicates that ACP leads to increased satisfaction from both patients and healthcare professionals. Despite the well-known benefits of ACP, it is still underutilised in Australia.
Methods: The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of normalising ACP in acute and community settings with the use of specially trained normalisation agents. This is a quasi-experimental study, involving 16 sites (8 intervention and 8 control) in two health districts in Australia. A minimum of total 288 participants will be recruited (144 intervention, 144 control). We will train four registered nurses as normalisation agents in the intervention sites, who will promote and facilitate ACP discussions with adult patients with chronic conditions in hospital and community settings. An audit of the prevalence of ACP and Advanced Care Directives (ACDs) will be conducted before and after the 6-month intervention period at the 16 sites to assess the effects of the ACP service delivered by these agents. We will also collect interview and survey data from patients and families who participate, and healthcare professionals who are involved in this service to capture their experiences with ACP.
Discussion: This study will potentially contribute to better patient outcomes with their health care services. Completion of ACDs will allow patients to express their wishes for care and receive the care that they wish for, as well as ease their family from the burden of making difficult decisions. The study will contribute to development of a new best practice model to normalise ACP that is sustainable and transferable in the processes of: 1) initiation of conversation; 2) discussion of important issues; 3) documentation of the wishes; 4) storage of the documented wishes; and 5) access and execution of the documented wishes. The study will generate new evidence on the challenges, strategies and benefits of normalising ACP into practice in acute and community settings.
Background: The high burden of bereavement in sub-Saharan Africa is largely attributable to HIV, cancer, and other non-communicable diseases. However, interventions to improve grief and bereavement are rare. Given high rates of mortality in the context of weak health systems, community lay members are well placed to provide peer bereavement support. The 9-cell bereavement tool was developed in Zimbabwe to improve community members' capacity to support the bereaved. This study aims to determine the feasibility of implementing the 9-cell bereavement tool and recruitment to experimental evaluation.
Methods/design: This feasibility cluster randomized trial with embedded qualitative interviews will be conducted in two comparable neighborhoods in Zimbabwe. Community leaders from each neighborhood will identify 25 potential community lay bereavement supporters, each of whom will recruit 2–3 bereaved community members into the trial. The intervention will be randomly allocated to one community, and the second community will form a wait-list control (n = 75 in each community cluster). Recruitment is estimated to take place over 3 weeks. Measures at T0 (baseline, i.e., week 0), T1 (midline, i.e., week 14 or 3 months post-baseline) and T2 (endline, i.e., week 27 or 3 months post-midline) will address mental health, social support, and levels of grief per individual. Qualitative data will describe lay supporters’ views of intervention training and delivery, and participants’ experience of bereavement support.
Discussion: This is the first documented trial evaluating a bereavement intervention in sub-Saharan Africa. Recruitment, retention, and measurement data will determine the feasibility of a full trial.
Trial registration: ISRCTN, ISRCTN16484746. Registered 6 February 2018.
BACKGROUND: The Surprise Question (SQ) "would I be surprised if this patient were to die in the next 12 months?" has been suggested to help clinicians, and especially General Practitioners (GPs), identify people who might benefit from palliative care. The prognostic accuracy of this approach is unclear and little is known about how GPs use this tool in practice. Are GPs consistent, individually and as a group? Are there international differences in the use of the tool? Does including the alternative Surprise Question ("Would I be surprised if the patient were still alive after 12 months?") alter the response? What is the impact on the treatment plan in response to the SQ? This study aims to address these questions.
METHODS: An online study will be completed by 600 (100 per country) registered GPs. They will be asked to review 20 hypothetical patient vignettes. For each vignette they will be asked to provide a response to the following four questions: (1) the SQ [Yes/No]; (2) the alternative SQ [Yes/No]; (3) the percentage probability of dying [0% no chance - 100% certain death]; and (4) the proposed treatment plan [multiple choice]. A "surprise threshold" for each participant will be calculated by comparing the responses to the SQ with the probability estimates of death. We will use linear regression to explore any differences in thresholds between countries and other clinician-related factors, such as years of experience. We will describe the actions taken by the clinicians and explore the differences between groups. We will also investigate the relationship between the alternative SQ and the other responses. Participants will receive a certificate of completion and the option to receive feedback on their performance.
DISCUSSION: This study explores the extent to which the SQ is consistently used at an individual, group, and national level. The findings of this study will help to understand the clinical value of using the SQ in routine practice.
INTRODUCTION: The prevention and relief of suffering are regarded as a goal at the end of life; therefore, suffering assessment at the end of life is essential. In this regard, we need instruments that allow us to evaluate this construct for gathering more evidence, as the assessment of suffering is increasingly used in research and the clinical setting. Many measures have been designed to assess this construct, and the selection of the most appropriate instrument is crucial. The aims of this systematic review are to (1) identify the measures assessing suffering in patients with advanced disease and their psychometric properties and (2) evaluate the methodological quality of studies on measurement properties.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: The protocol of this systematic review was developed using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Protocols Guidelines. A systematic psychometric review of measures assessing suffering in patients with advanced disease and their psychometric properties will be carried out according to the COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health status Measurement INstruments (COSMIN). The search strategy will be performed following the Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies. Searches will be conducted in Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Medline, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library, SciELO, Open Grey, Scopus, Web of Science and COSMIN database of systematic reviews, and it will be limited by time (1980-2018) and language (only literature in English and Spanish). Literature will be evaluated by two independent reviewers according to the COSMIN checklist, and measurement properties data of each study that meet the inclusion criteria will be scored independently by two researchers according to COSMIN quality ratings.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethical approval is not necessary for systematic review protocols. The results will be disseminated by publication in a peer-reviewed journal and presented at a relevant conference.
Introduction: Emergency department (ED)-initiated palliative care has been shown to improve patient-centred outcomes in older adults with serious, life-limiting illnesses. However, the optimal modality for providing such interventions is unknown. This study aims to compare nurse-led telephonic case management to specialty outpatient palliative care for older adults with serious, life-limiting illness on: (1) quality of life in patients; (2) healthcare utilisation; (3) loneliness and symptom burden and (4) caregiver strain, caregiver quality of life and bereavement.
Methods and analysis: This is a protocol for a pragmatic, multicentre, parallel, two-arm randomised controlled trial in ED patients comparing two established models of palliative care: nurse-led telephonic case management and specialty, outpatient palliative care. We will enrol 1350 patients aged 50+ years and 675 of their caregivers across nine EDs. Eligible patients: (1) have advanced cancer (metastatic solid tumour) or end-stage organ failure (New York Heart Association class III or IV heart failure, end-stage renal disease with glomerular filtration rate <15 mL/min/m2, or global initiative for chronic obstructive lung disease stage III, IV or oxygen-dependent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease); (2) speak English; (3) are scheduled for ED discharge or observation status; (4) reside locally; (5) have a working telephone and (6) are insured. Patients will be excluded if they: (1) have dementia; (2) have received hospice care or two or more palliative care visits in the last 6 months or (3) reside in a long-term care facility. We will use patient-level block randomisation, stratified by ED site and disease. Effectiveness will be compared by measuring the impact of each intervention on the specified outcomes. The primary outcome will measure change in patient quality of life.
Ethics and dissemination Institutional Review Board approval was obtained at all study sites. Trial results will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
BACKGROUND: Although patients in palliative care commonly report high emotional and spiritual needs, effective psychosocial treatments based on high quality studies are rare. First research provides evidence for benefits of psychosocial interventions in advanced cancer care. To specifically address end-of-life care requirements, life review techniques and creative-arts based therapies offer a promising potential. Therefore, the present study protocol presents a randomized controlled trial on the effectiveness of a newly developed music therapy technique that is based on a biographically meaningful song ("Song of Life"; SOL).
METHODS: In a design with two parallel arms, 104 patients at two palliative care units will be randomly assigned to three sessions of either SOL (experimental group) or relaxation exercises (control group). Improvements in the psychological domain of quality of life will be the primary endpoint, while secondary outcomes encompass spiritual well-being, ego-integrity, overall quality of life, and distress. Additionally, caregivers will be asked to provide feedback about the treatment. Assessment of biopsychological stress markers and qualitative analysis of perceived strengths and weaknesses will complement data collection.
DISCUSSION: Based on the results of a previous pilot study, we dedicated considerable efforts to optimizing the intervention and selecting appropriate outcomes for the present trial. We are confident to have designed a methodologically rigorous study that will contribute to the evidence-base and help to develop the potential of psychosocial interventions in palliative care.
OBJECTIVE: As referrals to specialist palliative care (PC) grow in volume and diversity, an evidence-based triage method is needed to enable services to manage waiting lists in a transparent, efficient, and equitable manner. Discrete choice experiments (DCEs) have not to date been used among PC clinicians, but may serve as a rigorous and efficient method to explore and inform the complex decision-making involved in PC triage. This article presents the protocol for a novel application of an international DCE as part of a mixed-method research program, ultimately aiming to develop a clinical decision-making tool for PC triage.
METHOD: Five stages of protocol development were undertaken: (1) identification of attributes of interest; (2) creation and (3) execution of a pilot DCE; and (4) refinement and (5) planned execution of the final DCE.Result: Six attributes of interest to PC triage were identified and included in a DCE that was piloted with 10 palliative care practitioners. The pilot was found to be feasible, with an acceptable cognitive burden, but refinements were made, including the creation of an additional attribute to allow independent analysis of concepts involved. Strategies for recruitment, data collection, analysis, and modeling were confirmed for the final planned DCE. Significance of results: This DCE protocol serves as an example of how the sophisticated DCE methodology can be applied to health services research in PC. Discussion of key elements that improved the utility, integrity, and feasibility of the DCE provide valuable insights.
BACKGROUND: The burden of symptoms and other concerns in chronic kidney disease (CKD) is known to be high, adversely affecting the quality of life of the growing number of those with this condition in developing countries. In this paper, we describe the protocol of a longitudinal observational study among people living with CKD. The study is developed to assess the bio-psychosocial factors associated with palliative care symptoms and concerns, and pattern of health services usage among Nigerians with stages 3-5 CKD. The overall objective is to establish the evidence-base for advocacy and policy formulation, treatment guidelines, care and services, and future clinical trial studies.
METHODS: This is a multi-center study to investigate the longitudinal course of symptoms and other concerns among patients with stages 3-5 CKD in Nigeria. Interviewer administered and self-report measures at baseline (T0) and 3-month (T1) address socio-demographic characteristics, clinical-illness related information, palliative care-related symptoms and other concerns, pattern of formal or informal service usage, and bio psychosocial measures including estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), anxiety, depression, quality of life, functioning, social support and spiritual wellbeing.
DISCUSSION: This study represents the first longitudinal investigation of palliative care symptoms and concerns among people with CKD in Nigeria. It includes early stages of CKD in compliance with best practices, and a comprehensive range of bio-psychosocial outcomes to understand how these factors are associated with symptoms. This study will provide evidence for how best to integrate palliative care into management of CKD to improve care and quality of life of people with CKD. The study team welcomes collaborations with both national and international researchers.
BACKGROUND: End-of-life needs can be only partly met by formalized health and palliative care resources. This creates the opportunity for the social support network of family and community to play a crucial role in this stage of life. Compassionate communities can be the missing piece to a complete care model at the end of life.
OBJECTIVE: The main objective of this study is to evaluate the REDCUIDA (Redes de Cuidados or Network of Care) intervention for the development and management of networks of care around people with advanced disease or at the end of life.
METHODS: The study is a 2-year nonrandomized controlled trial using 2 parallel groups. For the intervention group, we will combine palliative care treatment with a community promoter intervention, compared with a control group without intervention. Participants will be patients under a community palliative care team's supervision with and without intervention. The community promotor will deliver the intervention in 7 sessions at 2 levels: the patient and family level will identify unmet needs, and the community level will activate resources to develop social networks to satisfy patient and family needs. A sample size of 320 patients per group per 100,000 inhabitants will offer adequate information and will give the study 80% power to detect a 20% increase in unmet needs, decrease families' burden, improve families' satisfaction, and decrease the use of health system resources, the primary end point. Results will be based on patients' baseline and final analysis (after 7 weeks of the intervention). We will carry out descriptive analyses of variables related to patients' needs and of people involved in the social network. We will analyze pre- and postintervention data for each group, including measures of central tendency, confidence intervals for the 95% average, contingency tables, and a linear regression. For continuous variables, we will use Student t test to compare independent samples with normal distribution and Mann-Whitney U test for nonnormal distributions. For discrete variables, we will use Mann-Whitney U test. For dichotomous variables we will use Pearson chi-square test. All tests will be carried out with a significance level alpha=.05.
RESULTS: Ethical approval for this study was given by the Clinical Research Committee of Andalusian Health Service, Spain (CI 1020-N-17), in June 2018. The community promoter has been identified, received an expert community-based palliative care course, and will start making contacts in the community and the palliative care teams involved in the research project.
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study will provide evidence of the benefit of the REDCUIDA protocol on the development and assessment of networks of compassionate communities at the end of life. It will provide information about clinical and emotional improvements, satisfaction, proxy burden, and health care resource consumption regarding patients in palliative care.
REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER: RR1-10.2196/10515.
Latinos are more likely to experience uncontrolled pain, and institutional death, and are less likely to engage in advance care planning. Efforts to increase access to palliative care must maximize primary palliative care and community based models to meet the ever-growing need in a culturally sensitive and congruent manner. Patient navigator interventions are community-based, culturally tailored models of care that have been successfully implemented to improve disease prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment. We have developed a patient navigation intervention to improve palliative care outcomes for seriously ill Latinos. We describe the protocol for a National Institute of Nursing Research-funded randomized controlled trial designed to determine the effectiveness of the manualized patient navigator intervention. We aim to enroll 240 Latino adults with non-cancer, advanced medical illness from both urban and rural clinical sites. Participants will be randomized to the intervention group (five palliative care patient navigator visits plus bilingual educational materials) or control group (usual care plus bilingual educational materials). Outcomes include quality of life (Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy), advance care planning (Advance Care Planning Engagement survey), pain (Brief Pain Inventory), symptom management (Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale-revised), hospice utilization, and cost and utilization of healthcare resources. This culturally tailored, evidence-based, theory-driven, innovative patient navigation intervention has significant potential to improve palliative care for Latinos, and facilitate health equity in palliative and end-of-life care.
BACKGROUND: The death of a child before or shortly after birth is frequently preceded by an end-of-life decision (ELD). Population-based studies of incidence and characteristics of ELDs in neonates and infants are rare, and those in the foetal-infantile period (> 22 weeks of gestation – 1 year) including both neonates and stillborns, are non-existent. However, important information is missed when decisions made before birth are overlooked. Our study protocol addresses this knowledge gap.
METHODS: First, a new and encompassing framework was constructed to conceptualise ELDs in the foetal-infantile period. Next, a population mortality follow-back survey in Flanders (Belgium) was set up with physicians who certified all death certificates of stillbirths from 22 weeks of gestation onwards, and infants under the age of a year. Two largely similar questionnaires (stillbirths and neonates) were developed, pilot tested and validated, both including questions on ELDs and their preceding decision-making processes. Each death requires a postal questionnaire to be sent to the certifying physician. Anonymity of the child, parents and physician is ensured by a rigorous mailing procedure involving a lawyer as intermediary between death certificate authorities, physicians and researchers. Approval by medical societies, ethics and privacy commissions has been obtained.
DISCUSSION: This research protocol is the first to study ELDs over the entire foetal-infantile period on a population level. Based on representative samples of deaths and stillbirths and applying a trustworthy anonymity procedure, the research protocol can be used in other countries, irrespective of legal frameworks around perinatal end-of-life decision-making.
BACKGROUND: The specific palliative care needs and problems of patients with a substance use disorder and multiple problems, and those of their proxies, are under recognized. Besides, the organization of palliative care, including the division of health care professionals' responsibilities, is often unclear. Perspectives of patients and proxies are hardly known. We describe the outline of a study designed to explore how palliative care for patients with a substance use disorder is organized in the Netherlands and to explore problems and needs, as well as possible improvements from the healthcare professionals', patients' and proxies' perspective. The aim of this protocol paper is to provide insights in ways to conduct research with vulnerable research participants and to offer a detailed description of the study design. The broader study aims to gain insight in and formulate recommendations on how to improve palliative care for patients with a substance use disorder.
METHODS: A qualitative study with patients, proxies and healthcare professionals. Semi-structured interviews will be held with 10–15 patients who suffer from a severe substance use disorder. They are in a palliative care trajectory and either diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening disease or, as a result of addictive behavior, a physical deterioration without the prospect of cure. Semi-structured interviews will also be held with 5–10 proxies. Healthcare professionals, volunteers and/or ‘experts-by-experience’ (n = 24–40) will be participating in semi-structured group interviews. All (group) interviews will be thematically analyzed. Additionally, a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis will be applied to the group interview data with the aim to summarize and concretize the findings.
DISCUSSION: Everyone has a right to an optimal end-of-life phase of life and a dignified dying process. This study will provide valuable knowledge about palliative care for patients with a substance use disorder and explicitly bring to light the needs and problems of the patients and their proxies and healthcare professionals in a palliative care phase.
Individuals acting as surrogate decision-makers for critically-ill patients frequently struggle in this role and experience high levels of long-term psychological distress. Prior interventions designed to improve the sharing of information by the clinical team with surrogate decision-makers have demonstrated little effect on surrogates' outcomes or clinical decisions. In this report we describe the study protocol and corresponding intervention fidelity monitoring plan for a multi-center randomized clinical trial testing the impact of a multifaceted surrogate support intervention (Four Supports) on surrogates' psychological distress, the quality of decisions about goals of care, and healthcare utilization. We will randomize the surrogates of 300 incapacitated, critically-ill patients at high risk of death and/or severe long-term functional impairment to receive the Four Supports intervention or an education control. The Four Supports intervention adds to the ICU team a trained interventionist (family support specialist) who delivers four types of protocolized support-emotional support, communication support, decisional support, and, if indicated, anticipatory grief support-to surrogates through daily interactions during the ICU stay. The primary outcome is surrogates' symptoms of anxiety and depression at 6-month follow-up, measured with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Prespecified secondary outcome measures are the Patient and Family Centeredness of Care scale and Impact of Event Scale scores, at 3- and 6-months follow-up, respectively, along with ICU and hospital lengths of stay and total hospital cost among decedents. The fidelity monitoring plan entails establishing and measuring adherence to the intervention using multiple measurement methods, including coding of audiorecorded encounters. This approach to intervention fidelity may benefit others designing and testing behavioral interventions in the ICU setting.
BACKGROUND: More accurate methods of prognostication are likely to lead to improvements in the quality of care of patients approaching the ends of their lives. The Prognosis in Palliative care Scales (PiPS) are prognostic models of survival. The scores are calculated using simple clinical data and observations. There are two separate PiPS models; PiPS-A for patients without blood test results and PiPS-B for patients with blood test results. Both models predict whether a patient is likely to live for "days", "weeks" or "months" and have been shown to perform as well as clinicians' estimates of survival. PiPS-B has also been found to be significantly better than doctors' estimates of survival. We report here a protocol for the validation of PiPS and for the evaluation of the accuracy of other prognostic tools in a new, larger cohort of patients with advanced cancer.
METHODS: This is a national, multi-centre, prospective, observational cohort study, aiming to recruit 1778 patients via palliative care services across England and Wales. Eligible patients have advanced, incurable cancer and have recently been referred to palliative care services. Patients with or without capacity are included in the study. The primary outcome is the accuracy of PiPS predictions and the difference in accuracy between these predictions and the clinicians' estimates of survival; with PiPS-B being the main model of interest. The secondary outcomes include the accuracy of predictions by the Palliative Prognostic Index (PPI), Palliative Performance Scale (PPS), Palliative Prognostic score (PaP) and the Feliu Prognostic Nomogram (FPN) compared with actual patient survival and clinicians' estimates of survival. A nested qualitative sub-study using face-to-face interviews with patients, carers and clinicians is also being undertaken to assess the acceptability of the prognostic models and to identify barriers and facilitators to clinical use.
DISCUSSION: The study closed to recruitment at the end of April 2018 having exceeded the required sample size of 1778 patients. The qualitative sub-study is nearing completion. This demonstrates the feasibility of recruiting large numbers of participants to a prospective palliative care study.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN13688211 (registration date: 28/06/2016).
BACKGROUND: The care needs of patients with a limited prognosis (<12 months median) are complex and dynamic. Patients and caregivers must cope with many challenges, including physical symptoms and disabilities, uncertainty. and compromised self-efficacy. Healthcare is often characterized by disruptions in the transition between healthcare providers. The Milestones Communication Approach (MCA) is a structured, proactive, interprofessional concept that involves physicians and nurses and is aimed at providing coherent care across the disease trajectory. This study aims to evaluate these aspects of MCA: (1) the training of healthcare professionals, (2) implementation context and outcomes, (3) patient outcomes, and (4) effects on interprofessional collaboration.
METHODS/DESIGN: A multiphase mixed-methods design will be used for the study. A total of 100 patients and 120 healthcare professionals in a specialized oncology hospital will be involved. The training outcomes will be documented using a questionnaire. Implementation context and outcomes will be explored through semi-structured interviews and written questionnaires with healthcare professionals and with the training participants and through a content analysis of patient files. Patient outcomes will be assessed in a pragmatic non-blinded randomized controlled trial and in qualitative interviews with patients and caregivers. Trial outcomes are supportive care needs (SCNS-SF34-G), quality of life (SeiQol and Fact-L), depression and anxiety symptoms (PHQ-4), and distress (Distress Thermometer). Qualitative semi-structured interviews on patients' views will focus on shared decision-making, communication needs, feeling empathy, and further utilization of healthcare services. Interprofessional collaboration will be explored using the UWE-IP-D before the implementation of MCA (t0) and after 3 (t1), 9 (t2), and 12 (t3) months.
DISCUSSION: Using guideline-concordant early palliative care, MCA aims to foster patient-centered communication with shared decision-making and facilitation of advance care planning including end-of-life decisions, thus increasing patient quality of life and decreasing aggressive medical care at the end of life. It is assumed that the communication skills training and interprofessional coaching will improve the communication behavior of healthcare providers and influence team communications and team processes.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: German Clinical Trials Register, DRKS00013649 and DRKS00013469. Registered on 22 December 2017.
BACKGROUND: Close to half of all deaths in Norway occur in nursing homes, which signals a need for good communication on end-of-life care. Advance care planning (ACP) is one means to that end, but in Norwegian nursing homes, ACP is not common. This paper describes the protocol of a project evaluating an ACP-intervention in Norwegian nursing homes. The aims of this research project were to promote the possibility for conversations about the end of life with patients and relatives; promote patient autonomy; create a better foundation for important decisions in the case of medical emergencies and at the end of life; and gain experiences in order to find out what characterizes good ACP and good implementation strategies.
METHODS/DESIGN: This study was a mixed method study including a cluster-randomized clinical trial. Eight nursing home wards or "clusters" were pair-matched, and one ward from each pair was randomly selected for a 12-month intervention. The intervention consisted of implementing an ACP-guideline. Implementation strategies were training and supervision of project teams and staff in using the guideline, written information to patients and next of kin, and information meetings with nursing home staff. The project was evaluated using both quantitative and qualitative data, and both outcome and process evaluation. Quantitative data included patient chart reviews of ACP, diagnoses, patient preferences for decision-making and treatment, values and wishes that are more general, documented life-prolonging treatment and hospitalizations, and concordance between patient wishes and treatment. The primary outcome was documented ACP. Qualitative data included observations of conversations, interviews with patients, next of kin and health care personnel, logs from project coordinators and conversations, and transcripts from meetings with project teams in the intervention group.
DISCUSSION: This project attempted to increase the quality and use of ACP in Norwegian nursing homes (NH). A mixed methods approach, inclusion of patients with dementia, attempts to involve, as many patients as possible, and a sustainable implementation plan adapted to real life in nursing homes were strengths of the project.
BACKGROUND: Prolonged grief disorder (PGD) has emerged as a well-defined and relatively common mental disorder that will be included in the upcoming revision of the International Classification of Diseases. Recent trials with grief-specific, mostly cognitive behavioral interventions for patients with a clinically relevant diagnosis of PGD showed large effect sizes. However, a small trial suggested that non-specific behavioral activation might suffice to improve PGD. So, more evidence for the relative efficacy of grief-specific treatments is needed, as is more research on the predictors of treatment success. The purpose of the proposed trial is to evaluate a newly developed and successfully pilot-tested, prolonged grief-specific, integrative cognitive behavioral therapy (PG-CBT) compared to an active yet unspecific treatment, present-centered therapy (PCT).
METHODS: In a multicenter, randomized controlled trial with 204 adults with a primary diagnosis of PGD, PG-CBT is compared to PCT, assuming the superiority of PG-CBT. Both treatments consist of 20 to 24 individual sessions, with an overall treatment length of about 6 months. The primary outcome, grief symptom severity, is assessed by blinded interviewers 12 months after randomization. Secondary outcomes are grief symptom severity at post treatment, in addition to self-reported overall mental health symptoms, depressive and somatoform symptoms at post treatment and 12 months post randomization. Possible moderators and mediators of treatment success are also explored.
DISCUSSION: The trial is designed to avoid bias as much as possible (stratified randomization performed independently, blinded outcome assessment, intention-to-treat-analysis, balanced treatment dose, continuous supervision, control for allegiance effects) thereby enhancing internal validity. At the same time, some aspects of the trial will ensure clinical relevance (recruiting at outpatient clinics that are part of routine health care and keeping exclusion criteria to a minimum). Since the trial is powered adequately for the primary outcome, all secondary analyses including moderator analyses are exploratory by nature. The results will extend the knowledge on efficacious treatment of PGD and its predictors.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: German Clinical Trials Register, ID: DRKS00012317 . Registered on 6 September 2017.
INTRODUCTION: For patients with advanced cancer, research shows that pain is frequent, burdensome and undertreated. Evidence-based approaches to support cancer pain management have been developed but have not been implemented within the context of the UK National Health Service. This protocol is for a pragmatic multicentre randomised controlled trial (RCT) to assess feasibility, acceptability, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness for a multicomponent intervention for pain management in patients with advanced cancer.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: This trial will assess the feasibility of implementation and uptake of evidence-based interventions, developed and piloted as part of the Improving the Management of Pain from Advanced Cancer in the Community Programme grant, into routine clinical practice and determine whether there are potential differences with respect to patient-rated pain, patient pain knowledge and experience, healthcare use, quality of life and cost-effectiveness. 160 patients will receive either the intervention (usual care plus supported self-management) delivered within the oncology clinic and palliative care services by locally assigned community palliative care nurses, consisting of a self-management educational intervention and eHealth intervention for routine pain assessment and monitoring; or usual care. The primary outcomes are to assess implementation and uptake of the interventions, and differences in terms of pain severity. Secondary outcomes include pain interference, participant pain knowledge and experience, and cost-effectiveness. Outcome assessment will be blinded and patient-reported outcome measures collected via post at 6 and 12 weeks following randomisation.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This RCT has the potential to significantly influence National Health Service delivery to community-based patients with pain from advanced cancer. We aim to provide definitive evidence of whether two simple interventions delivered by community palliative care nurse in palliative care that support-self-management are clinically effective and cost-effective additions to standard community palliative care.
TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN18281271; Pre-results.
BACKGROUND: Several studies have highlighted the need for improvement in palliative care delivered to older people long-term care facilities. However, the available evidence on how to improve palliative care in these settings is weak, especially in Europe. We describe the protocol of the PACE trial aimed to 1) evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the 'PACE Steps to Success' palliative care intervention for older people in long-term care facilities, and 2) assess the implementation process and identify facilitators and barriers for implementation in different countries.
METHODS: We will conduct a multi-facility cluster randomised controlled trial in Belgium, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and England. In total, 72 facilities will be randomized to receive the 'Pace Steps to Success intervention' or to 'care as usual'. Primary outcome at resident level: quality of dying (CAD-EOLD); and at staff level: staff knowledge of palliative care (Palliative Care Survey).
SECONDARY OUTCOMES: resident's quality of end-of-life care, staff self-efficacy, self-perceived educational needs, and opinions on palliative care. Economic outcomes: direct costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). Measurements are performed at baseline and after the intervention. For the resident-level outcomes, facilities report all deaths of residents in and outside the facilities over a previous four-month period and structured questionnaires are sent to (1) the administrator, (2) staff member most involved in care (3) treating general practitioner, and (4) a relative. For the staff-level outcomes, all staff who are working in the facilities are asked to complete a structured questionnaire. A process evaluation will run alongside the effectiveness evaluation in the intervention group using the RE-AIM framework.
DISCUSSION: The lack of high quality trials in palliative care has been recognized throughout the field of palliative care research. This cross-national cluster RCT designed to evaluate the impact of the palliative care intervention for long-term care facilities 'PACE Steps to Success' in seven countries, will provide important evidence concerning the effectiveness as well as the preconditions for optimal implementation of palliative care in nursing homes, and this within different health care systems.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: The study is registered at www.isrctn.com - ISRCTN14741671 (FP7-HEALTH-2013-INNOVATION-1 603111) Registration date: July 30, 2015.
Background: Prognostic uncertainty inhibits clinicians from initiating timely end-of-life discussions and advance care planning. This study evaluates the efficacy of the CriSTAL (Criteria for Screening and Triaging to Appropriate aLternative care) checklist in emergency departments.
Methods: Prospective cohort study of patients aged =65 years with any diagnosis admitted via emergency departments in ten hospitals in Australia, Denmark and Ireland. Electronic and paper clinical records will be used to extract risk factors such as nursing home residency, physiological deterioration warranting a rapid response call, personal history of active chronic disease, history of hospitalisations or intensive care unit admission in the past year, evidence of proteinuria or ECG abnormalities, and evidence of frailty to be concurrently measured with Fried Score and Clinical Frailty Scale. Patients or their informal caregivers will be contacted by telephone around three months after initial assessment to ascertain survival, self-reported health, post-discharge frailty and health service utilisation since discharge. Logistic regression and bootstrapping techniques and AUROC curves will be used to test the predictive accuracy of CriSTAL for death within 90 days of admission and in-hospital death.
Discussion: The CriSTAL checklist is an objective and practical tool for use in emergency departments among older patients to determine individual probability of death in the short-term. Its validation in this cohort is expected to reduce clinicians’ prognostic uncertainty on the time to patients’ death and encourage timely end-of-life conversations to support clinical decisions with older frail patients and their families about their imminent or future care choices.