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Open Access Study protocol

Intervention for depression among palliative care patients and their families: A study protocol for evaluation of a training program for professional care staff

David J Hallford1, Marita P McCabe1*, David Mellor1, Tanya E Davison1, Denisa L Goldhammer1, Kuruvilla George2 and Shane Storer3

Author Affiliations

1 School of Psychology, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Hwy, Burwood VIC 3125, Australia

2 Eastern Health, Peter James Centre, Mahoneys Road, Forest Hill VIC 3131, Australia

3 South West Health, Warrnambool Campus, Ryot St, Warrnambool VIC 3280, Australia

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BMC Palliative Care 2011, 10:11  doi:10.1186/1472-684X-10-11

Published: 13 June 2011

Abstract

Background

Clinical depression is highly prevalent yet under-detected and under-treated in palliative care settings and is associated with a number of adverse medical and psychological outcomes for patients and their family members. This article presents a study protocol to evaluate a training intervention for non-physician palliative care staff to improve the recognition of depression and provide support for depressed patients and their family members. Details of the hypotheses and expected outcomes, study design, training program development and evaluation measures are described.

Methods and Design

A randomised controlled trial will be implemented across two palliative care services to evaluate the "Training program for professional carers to recognise and manage depression in palliative care settings". Pre-, post- and three-month follow-up data will be collected to assess: the impact of the training on the knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy and perceived barriers of palliative care staff when working with depression; referral rates for depression; and changes to staff practices. Quantitative and qualitative methods, in the form of self-report questionnaires and interviews with staff and family members, will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention.

Discussion

This study will determine the effectiveness of an intervention that aims to respond to the urgent need for innovative programs to target depression in the palliative care setting. The expected outcome of this study is the validation of an evidence-based training program to improve staff recognition and appropriate referrals for depression, as well as improve psychosocial support for depressed patients and their family members.

Trial Registration

Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Register (ANZCTR): ACTRN12610000183088