Background: Patients with upper gastrointestinal, Dukes D colorectal and metastatic liver cancers have a poor prognosis. As a result, patients and their family caregivers have significant levels of unmet supportive care need, psychological distress and poor quality of life. Family members are also at high risk of significant carer burden.
Aim: The study aims to ascertain the effectiveness of a structured telephone intervention to reduce carer’ unmet supportive care needs and psychological distress and to improve quality of life of family caregivers of people with poor prognosis gastrointestinal cancer in the first three months after starting treatment. The study will also investigate whether a carer focused intervention can improve patient outcomes.
Methods: This multicentre-RCT will recruit 160 family caregivers and patients starting treatment (surgical or non-surgical) after a surgical review for a newly diagnosed or recurrent primary upper gastrointestinal cancer or Dukes D colorectal cancer or newly diagnosed or recurrent metastatic liver disease. Participants are randomised to receive four telephone intervention calls in the 10 weeks following the patient’s discharge, or standard care. Six Sydney hospitals are currently recruiting to the study. Total recruitment to date is 97 participants. Study retention rate is 82%. Most common reason for withdrawal is patient death (n=9). Current rate of questionnaire return is 88% for carers and 91% for patients at 3 months and 89% and 86% at 6 months.
Conclusions: This trial will determine the effectiveness of a telephone-based intervention to improve psychosocial outcomes for family caregivers of patients with poor prognosis gastrointestinal cancer. Based on current study participation, recruitment is due to be completed December 2012.