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Clinical Trial Summary

This study is a randomized clinical trial of an intervention to improve outcomes for patients and their family by using ICU nurse facilitators to support, model, and teach communication strategies that enable patients and their families to secure care in line with patients' goals of care over an illness trajectory, beginning in the ICU and continuing to care in the community.


Clinical Trial Description

The impact of critical illness is increasing due to an aging population as well as advances in effectiveness and availability of critical care. Critically ill patients and their families suffer a high burden of symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress due, in part, to fragmented medical care that is often poorly aligned with their goals. Fragmented care includes numerous transitions for patients and families across clinicians and across settings, starting in the intensive care unit (ICU) and extending to acute care, skilled nursing facilities, or home. As illness progresses, patients and families struggle to navigate the spectrum of goals of care, to match their values and goals with treatments, to communicate their goals to their clinicians, and to make difficult medical decisions without letting unmet emotional needs interfere. Poor communication exacerbated by these transitions compounds an already stressful experience, causing distress to patients and their families. Taken together, these issues lead to ineffective communication during and after the ICU which can often result in high intensity "default" care that may be unwanted.

Using a randomized trial, this project aims to evaluate an innovative model of care in which ICU nurse facilitators support, model, and teach communication strategies that enable patients and families to secure care in line with their goals over an illness trajectory, beginning in the ICU and continuing into the community. Facilitators use communication skills, attachment theory, and mediation to improve: 1) patients' and families' self-efficacy to communicate with clinicians within and across settings; 2) patients' and families' outcome expectation that communication with clinicians can improve their care; and 3) patients' and families' behavioral capability through skill building to resolve barriers to effective communication and mediate conflict. Facilitators work with seriously ill patients and their families beginning with a critical care unit stay and following them over the course of three months.

The intervention's effectiveness will be measured with patient- and family-centered outcomes at 1-, 3-, and 6-months post-randomization. The primary outcome is family members' burden of symptoms of depression over the 6 months. The investigators also evaluate whether the intervention improves the value of healthcare by reducing healthcare costs while improving patient and family outcomes. Finally, investigators use qualitative methods to explore implementation factors (intervention, settings, individuals, processes) associated with improved implementation outcomes (acceptability, fidelity, penetration) to inform dissemination of this type of intervention to support patients and their families. This study aims to address key knowledge gaps while evaluating a methodologically rigorous intervention to improve outcomes for patients with serious illness and their families across the trajectory of care and the spectrum of goals of care. ;


Study Design


Related Conditions & MeSH terms


NCT number NCT03721952
Study type Interventional
Source University of Washington
Contact J. Randall Curtis, MD, MPH
Phone 206-744-3356
Email jrc@uw.edu
Status Not yet recruiting
Phase N/A
Start date March 2019
Completion date October 2023

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