Activating Relatives to Get Involved in Care After Surgery: Protocol for a Prospective Cohort Study

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Abstract

Background: Postoperative complications and readmissions to hospital are factors known to negatively influence the short- and long-term quality of life of patients with gastrointestinal cancer. Active family involvement in activities, such as fundamental care activities, has the potential to improve the quality of health care. However, there is a lack of evidence regarding the relationship between active family involvement and outcomes in patients with gastrointestinal cancer after surgery. Objective: This protocol aims to evaluate the effect of a family involvement program (FIP) on unplanned readmissions of adult patients undergoing surgery for malignant gastrointestinal tumors. Furthermore, the study aims to evaluate the effect of the FIP on family caregiver (FC) burden and their well-being and the fidelity of the FIP. Methods: This cohort study will be conducted in 2 academic hospitals in the Netherlands. The FIP will be offered to adult patients and their FCs. Patients are scheduled for oncological gastrointestinal surgery and have an expected hospital stay of at least 5 days after surgery. FCs must be willing to participate in fundamental care activities during hospitalization and after discharge. Consenting patients and their families will choose to either participate in the FIP or be included in the usual care group. According to the power calculation, we will recruit 150 patients and families in the FIP group and 150 in the usual care group. The intervention group will receive the FIP that consists of information, shared goal setting, task-oriented training, participation in fundamental care, presence of FCs during ward rounds, and rooming-in for at least 8 hours a day. Patients in the comparison group will receive usual postoperative care. The primary outcome measure is the number of unplanned readmissions up to 30 days after surgery. Several secondary outcomes will be collected, that is, total number of complications (sensitive to fundamental care activities) at 30 and 90 days after surgery, emergency department visits, intensive care unit admissions up to 30 and 90 days after surgery, hospital length of stay, patients’ quality of life, and the amount of home care needed after discharge. FC outcomes are caregiver burden and well-being up to 90 days after participating in the FIP. To evaluate fidelity, we will check whether the FIP is executed as intended. Univariable regression and multivariable regression analyses will be conducted. Results: The first participant was enrolled in April 2019. The follow-up period of the last participant ended in May 2022. The study was funded by an unrestricted grant of the University hospital in 2018. We aim to publish the results in 2023. Conclusions: This study will provide evidence on outcomes from a FIP and will provide health care professionals practical tools for family involvement in the oncological surgical care setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere38028
Number of pages14
JournalJMIR research protocols
Volume12
Early online date2 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • cohort
  • family-centered care
  • postoperative
  • prospective study
  • surgical oncology

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