Open Access Study protocol

Effects of shared medical appointments on quality of life and cost-effectiveness for patients with a chronic neuromuscular disease. Study protocol of a randomized controlled trial

Femke M Seesing1, Gea Drost1, Gert-Jan van der Wilt2 and Baziel GM van Engelen1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, Reinier Postlaan 4, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

2 Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Health Technology Assessment, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, Geert Grooteplein noord 21, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

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BMC Neurology 2011, 11:106  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-106

Published: 23 August 2011

Abstract

Background

Shared medical appointments are a series of one-to-one doctor-patient contacts, in presence of a group of 6-10 fellow patients. This group visits substitute the annual control visits of patients with the neurologist. The same items attended to in a one-to- one appointment are addressed. The possible advantages of a shared medical appointment could be an added value to the present management of neuromuscular patients. The currently problem-focused one-to-one out-patient visits often leave little time for the patient's psychosocial needs, patient education, and patient empowerment.

Methods/design

A randomized, prospective controlled study (RCT) with a follow up of 6 months will be conducted to evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of shared medical appointments compared to usual care for 300 neuromuscular patients and their partners at the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center. Every included patient will be randomly allocated to one of the two study arms. This study has been reviewed and approved by the medical ethics committee of the region Arnhem-Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The primary outcome measure is quality of life as measured by the EQ-5D, SF-36 and the Individualized neuromuscular Quality of Life Questionnaire. The primary analysis will be an intention-to-treat analysis on the area under the curve of the quality of life scores. A linear mixed model will be used with random factor group and fixed factors treatment, baseline score and type of neuromuscular disease. For the economic evaluation an incremental cost-effectiveness analysis will be conducted from a societal perspective, relating differences in costs to difference in health outcome. Results are expected in 2012.

Discussion

This study will be the first randomized controlled trial which evaluates the effect of shared medical appointments versus usual care for neuromuscular patients. This will enable to determine if there is additional value of shared medical appointments to the current therapeutical spectrum. When this study shows that group visits produce the alleged benefits, this may help to increase the acceptance of this innovative and creative way of using one of the most precious resources in health care more efficiently: time.

Trial registration

DutchTrial Register http://www.trialregister.nl webciteNTR1412