Improving end-of-life care in acute geriatric hospital wards using the Care Programme for the Last Days of Life: study protocol for a phase 3 cluster randomized controlled trial.

Date: 
22-02-2015

Authors: Rebecca Verhofstede, Tinne Smets, Joachim Cohen, Massimo Costantini, Nele Van Den Noortgate, Luc Deliens

Source: 
BMC geriatrics (2015)
Links: 
PubMed

Background

The Care Programme for the Last Days of Life has been developed to improve the quality of end-of-life care in acute geriatric hospital wards. The programme is based on existing end-of-life care programmes but modeled to the acute geriatric care setting. There is a lack of evidence of the effectiveness of end-of-life care programmes and the effects that may be achieved in patients dying in an acute geriatric hospital setting are unknown. The aim of this paper is to describe the research protocol of a cluster randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effects of the Care Programme for the Last Days of Life.

Methods And Design

A cluster randomized controlled trial will be conducted. Ten hospitals with one or more acute geriatric wards will conduct a one-year baseline assessment during which care will be provided as usual. For each patient dying in the ward, a questionnaire will be filled in by a nurse, a physician and a family carer. At the end of the baseline assessment hospitals will be randomized to receive intervention (implementation of the Care Programme) or no intervention. Subsequently, the Care Programme will be implemented in the intervention hospitals over a six-month period. A one-year post-intervention assessment will be performed immediately after the baseline assessment in the control hospitals and after the implementation period in the intervention hospitals. Primary outcomes are symptom frequency and symptom burden of patients in the last 48 hours of life.

Discussion

This will be the first cluster randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of the Care Programme for the Last Days of Life for the acute geriatric hospital setting. The results will enable us to evaluate whether implementation of the Care Programme has positive effects on end-of-life care during the last days of life in this patient population and which components of the Care Programme contribute to improving the quality of end-of-life care.

Trial Registration

ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01890239. Registered June 24th, 2013.

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