Expired Study
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Boston, Massachusetts 02120


The overarching goal of the project is to improve the process and experience of surrogate decision-making by family caregivers. Since feeling unprepared to make surrogate decisions is a major contributor to caregiver stress, the primary outcome is caregiver self-efficacy --i.e., caregivers' assessment of how well prepared they feel to serve effectively as a surrogate decision-maker. Through follow-on Renewal funding, we are now also qualitatively examining family caregivers' experience with surrogate decision-making.

Study summary:

The long-term goal is to help family caregivers of seriously ill patients be better prepared to serve as surrogate decision-makers when their loved ones can no longer make medical decisions for themselves. Research shows that family caregivers find surrogate decision-making highly stressful and emotionally burdensome, in part because they feel unprepared for surrogate decision-making. To date, no studies have determined which advance care planning (ACP) process best prepares caregivers for this role. The investigators' prior work shows that a computer-based decision aid can help patients make more informed decisions and communicate their wishes more effectively. The investigators now propose to determine if family caregivers of patients with life-threatening illnesses are better prepared for surrogate decision-making: 1) when they engage in a structured ACP process together with patients; and 2) when they use this online decision aid for ACP. This will be accomplished via a randomized, controlled trial with a 2 x 2 factorial design comprising 4 groups: Standard ACP/Patient Alone (Group 1), Decision Aid/Patient Alone (Group 2), Standard ACP/Patients and Caregivers Together (Group 3), and Decision Aid/Patients and Caregivers Together (Group 4).


Inclusion Criteria: 1. 18 years of age or older 2. Diagnosis of kidney disease (e.g. chronic kidney disease, end stage renal disease ) OR advanced cancer (Stage IV disease or having an estimated survival of <2 years) OR severe heart failure (e.g. New York Heart Assoc. Class III or Class IV) OR severe lung disease (e.g. Stage III or Stage IV COPD by modified GOLD Spirometric Classification, Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis). 3. Able to read and understand English at an 8th grade level (word 26 on either blue or tan version of the WRAT-3 reading subtest) 4. Neuro-cognitively able to engage in ACP (Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE) score >23) 5. No active suicidal ideations (i.e., score of 0 or 1 on item 9 of the BDI-II). Exclusion Criteria: - Failure on any of the above inclusion criteria.



Primary Contact:

Principal Investigator
Benjamin H Levi, MD PhD
Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center / Penn State College of Medicine

Backup Contact:


Location Contact:

Boston, Massachusetts 02120
United States

There is no listed contact information for this specific location.

Site Status: N/A

Data Source: ClinicalTrials.gov

Date Processed: January 21, 2020

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