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Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

PROLONG: a cluster controlled trial to examine identification of patients with COPD with poor prognosis and implementation of proactive palliative care

Ria G Duenk1*, Yvonne Heijdra2, Stans C Verhagen1, Richard PNR Dekhuijzen2, Kris CP Vissers1 and Yvonne Engels1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anesthesiology, Pain and Palliative Medicine, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, PO Box 9101, Nijmegen 6500 HB, the Netherlands

2 Department of Lung Diseases, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, PO Box 9101, Nijmegen 6500 HB, the Netherlands

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BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2014, 14:54  doi:10.1186/1471-2466-14-54

Published: 2 April 2014

Abstract

Background

Proactive palliative care is not yet common practice for patients with COPD. Important barriers are the identification of patients with a poor prognosis and the organization of proactive palliative care dedicated to the COPD patient. Recently a set of indicators has been developed to identify those patients with COPD hospitalized for an acute exacerbation who are at risk for post-discharge mortality. Only after identification of these patients with poor prognosis a multi disciplinary approach to proactive palliative care with support of a specialized palliative care team can be initiated.

Methods/Design

The PROLONG study is a prospective cluster controlled trial in which 6 hospitals will participate. Three hospitals are selected for the intervention condition based on the presence of a specialized palliative care team. The study population consists of patients with COPD and their main informal caregivers. Patients will be included during hospitalization for an acute exacerbation. All patients in the study receive standard care (usual care). Besides, patients in the intervention condition who meet two or more criteria of the set of indicators for proactive palliative care will have additionally regular consultations with a specialized palliative care team. The objectives of the PROLONG study are: 1) to assess the discriminating power of the proposed set of indicators (indicator study) and 2) to assess the effects of proactive palliative care for qualifying patients with COPD on the wellbeing of these patients and their informal caregivers (intervention study). The primary outcome measure of the indicator study is time to death for any cause. The primary outcome measure of the intervention study is the change in quality of life measured by the St George Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) three months after inclusion.

Discussion

The PROLONG study may lead to better understanding of the conditions to start and the effectiveness of proactive palliative care for patients with COPD. Innovative aspects of the PROLONG study are the use of a set of indicators for proactive palliative care, the active involvement of a specialized palliative care team and the use of a patient-tailored proactive palliative care plan.

Trial registration

Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR4037

Keywords:
COPD; Exacerbation; Indicators; Prognosis; Proactive palliative care; Quality of life