Open Access Research article

Evaluation of a complex intervention to improve activities of daily living of disabled cancer patients: protocol for a randomised controlled study and feasibility of recruitment and intervention

Line Lindahl-Jacobsen12*, Dorte Gilså Hansen1, Karen la Cour3 and Jens Søndergaard1

Author Affiliations

1 Research Unit of General Practice, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, JB Winsløws Vej 9A, Odense C 5000, Denmark

2 Department of Rheumatology and Rehabilitation, Næstved Hospital, Region Zealand, Ringstedgade 61, Næstved 4700, Denmark

3 Research Initiative of Activity Studies - Health, Man and Society, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, JB Winsløws Vej 9B, Odense C 5000, Denmark

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:194  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-194

Published: 29 April 2014



Many cancer patients have problems performing activities of daily living (ADL). A randomised controlled trial was designed to examine the effects of an ADL intervention in addition to standard treatment and care in a hospital setting. The objective of this article was to present the study and to analyse the feasibility of the recruitment process and the intervention.


Adult disabled cancer patients at Næstved Hospital in Denmark were enrolled between 1 March 2010 and 30 June 2011 and randomised into an ADL intervention or to a control group. The intervention was performed by occupational therapists. The feasibility of the recruitment was analysed with regard to success in achieving the estimated number of participants and identification of barriers, and feasibility of the intervention was based on calculations of patient attendance and patient acceptability. The primary outcome of the randomised controlled trial was patients’ health-related quality of life 2 and 8 weeks after baseline.


A total of 118 disabled cancer patients were enrolled in the study over a time span of 16 months. Very few meetings between occupational therapist and patient were cancelled. Time spent on the intervention varied considerably, but for the majority of patients, time consumption was between 1–3 hours.


Despite difficulties with recruitment, participation was considered feasible and the intervention was accepted among patients. Missing data in the follow-up period were mostly due to death among participants. Very few participants declined to complete questionnaires during follow-up.

Cancer rehabilitation; Occupational therapy; Activities of daily living; Intervention studies; Feasibility studies