Introducing Palliative Care within the Treatment of End-Stage Liver Disease: The Study Protocol of a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial.
Introduction: Patients with end-stage liver disease (ESLD) suffer from myriad symptoms due to the systemic effects of the disease and unpredictable acute episodes, which contribute to progressive deterioration in quality of life (QOL). Despite clear evidence that palliative care (PC) improves QOL in other serious illnesses, PC is underutilized and delayed for ESLD patients. Through a comparative effectiveness trial of specialist led consultative PC (Model 1) versus trained hepatologist led PC (Model 2), we aim to build evidence on introducing PC into the routine outpatient care of ESLD patients. Objective: We hypothesize that trained hepatologist led PC model will have a better improvement in QOL compared to consultative PC model. Methods: This two-arm, multicenter cluster-randomized trial assesses the effectiveness of two PC models for patients with ESLD. Fourteen clinical centers will recruit 1260 patient-caregiver dyads. Each center is the unit of randomization. Hepatologists at sites randomized to the Model 2 have undergone web-based training in the principles of PC as pertained to ESLD. PC intervention is delivered over four visits (initial, one, two, and three months). Follow-up assessments occur at 6, 9, and 12 months. Eligible patients are those with new onset or ongoing complications of ESLD with a caregiver willing to participate. Outcomes: The primary outcome is change in patients' QOL from baseline to three months. Secondary outcomes include symptom burden, depression, distress, satisfaction with care, caregiver burden and QOL, goal concordant care, and health care utilization. Challenges and Contributions Engagement: A research advisory board has been developed with representatives from the participating centers, who have provided active feedback on the protocol, outcomes, study methods, and training program. Intervention Fidelity: Intervention fidelity will be maintained by adherence to a visit agenda and providers in both models completing a PC checklist after each study visit.
Verma, M; Kosinski, AS; Volk, ML; Taddei, T; Ramchandran, K; Bakitas, M; Green, K; Green, L; Navarro, V
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