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Trial registered on ANZCTR

Registration number
Ethics application status
Date submitted
Date registered
Date last updated
Type of registration
Prospectively registered

Titles & IDs
Public title
Melatonin vs. placebo for prevention of delirium in hospital in people with advanced cancer
Scientific title
Randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase III trial of oral melatonin for the prevention of delirium in hospital in people with advanced cancer
Secondary ID [1] 290476 0
Protocol Number 035/16 v1.1
Universal Trial Number (UTN)
Trial acronym
Linked study record

Health condition
Health condition(s) or problem(s) studied:
Delirium 300850 0
Advanced Cancer 301079 0
Condition category
Condition code
Neurological 300671 300671 0 0
Other neurological disorders
Cancer 300855 300855 0 0
Any cancer

Study type
Description of intervention(s) / exposure
Melatonin prolonged release 2mg oral tablet nightly commenced within 48 hours after hospital admission and continued until delirium occurrence, discharge, or for a maximum of 3 weeks after any acute medical issues imparting a delirium risk have been resolved.

The intervention will be delivered at 20:00 hours. At each dose, the individually labelled bottle will be opened and the prescribed dose taken out. The clinical nurse will observe the participant while the participant swallows the tablet whole, and then record the administration in the medicine record.
Intervention code [1] 296332 0
Treatment: Drugs
Intervention code [2] 296464 0
Comparator / control treatment
Oral placebo tablet containing identical ingredients except the active ingredient melatonin (amino methacrylate co-polymer, lactose, silicon dioxide, talcum and magnesium stearate) to ensure matching taste, size, shape and colour.
Control group

Primary outcome [1] 300097 0
Number of delirium-free days (which occur before delirium onset for any participant who develops delirium).
For each participant, delirium screening will occur every 8 hours on each of the three 8-hour shifts by the ward nurses, using the Nursing Delirium Screening Scale (NuDESC). Participants scoring 2 or higher in the NuDESC will be assessed with The Delirium Rating Scale – Revised 98 (DRS-R-98) to confirm delirium presence and delirium severity.
Timepoint [1] 300097 0
From within 48 hours of hospital admission, until delirium occurrence, discharge or for a maximum of three weeks if patient remains in hospital after any acute medical issues imparting a delirium risk have been resolved
Secondary outcome [1] 329028 0
Delirium profile assessed by DRS-R-98 (Delirium Rating Scale- Revised-98)
Timepoint [1] 329028 0
Eligibility and then daily for the duration of study medication administration
Secondary outcome [2] 329029 0
- Sedation: assessed by the Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale - Palliative (RASS - Pal)
- Days in coma defined as RASS - Pal score of -4 or -5.
- Other adverse events: assessed using the National Cancer Institute Common Terminology Criteria
Timepoint [2] 329029 0
From baseline and then daily for the duration of study medication administration
Secondary outcome [3] 329030 0
Regular and administration of ‘as required’ doses of benzodiazepine and antipsychotics will be recorded daily in the participant medication chart (within the medical record)
Timepoint [3] 329030 0
From baseline for the duration of study medication administration
Secondary outcome [4] 329033 0
Delirium precipitating factors measured using the Delirium Etiology Checklist (DEC)
Timepoint [4] 329033 0
At the time of delirium occurrence
Secondary outcome [5] 329034 0
In-hospital complications:
Falls, pneumonia, thromboembolism, pressure areas, changes in performance status (AKPS) and survival will be documented daily in the medical records until participant's hospital discharge and then weekly in the follow-up period (21 days after ceasing study medication).
Timepoint [5] 329034 0
From baseline for the duration of study medication administration
Secondary outcome [6] 329035 0
Family distress using the Delirium Experience Questionnaire
Timepoint [6] 329035 0
After a delirium episode
Secondary outcome [7] 329036 0
Sleep quality measured using the Insomnia Severity Index
Timepoint [7] 329036 0
At baseline and every 5 days during the admission
Secondary outcome [8] 329038 0
Inpatient resource utilisation
variables include duration of admission (days), daily medications, investigations (blood tests, imaging, urine cultures), and level of nursing required for transfers or care (independent, standby assistance, one or two assistants) and use of one to one nursing (hours). This information will be assessed by review of medical records.
Timepoint [8] 329038 0
From baseline until follow-up completion (21 days after ceasing study medication)

Key inclusion criteria
- Aged 18 years or older
- English speaking or availability of a health care interpreter.
- Diagnosis of advanced cancer (histological or clinical diagnosis) defined by the intent of treatment no longer being curative
- Admission to an acute or sub-acute inpatient facility
- Participant is able to give fully informed written consent
Minimum age
18 Years
Maximum age
No limit
Both males and females
Can healthy volunteers participate?
Key exclusion criteria
- Inability to take medications orally
- Delirium on admission as defined the cut off score on the delirium rating scale DRS-R-98 of 17.75 or more indicative of delirium
- Australian Karnofsky Performance Status (AKPS) score less than 30 at the beginning of the study
- A known allergy to melatonin or placebo content
- Active seizure disorder defined as seizure within last one month, or seizure disorder not on anticonvulsants
- Concomitant cimetidine use (CYP2D Inhibitor increases melatonin levels by 1.7 fold)
- Current history alcohol abuse (alcohol reduces melatonin levels);
- In people taking warfarin, a markedly nontherapeutic international normalized ratio (less than 1 or greater than 4)
- Moderate to severe dementia as defined by clinical diagnosis of dementia and a Short Blessed Test (SBT) score equal or greater that 10
- Severe hepatic impairment (defined as bilirubin at least 2.5 times upper limit of normal; alkaline phosphatase, aspartate transaminase and/or alanine transaminase more than 3 times upper limit of normal clinically determined to be due to hepatic impairment)
- Current use of melatonin for other indication, melatonin use within last 14 days
- Currently taking agomelatine, or use of agomelatine in the past 7 days
- Pregnant or breastfeeding

Study design
Purpose of the study
Allocation to intervention
Randomised controlled trial
Procedure for enrolling a subject and allocating the treatment (allocation concealment procedures)
Randomisation schedules will be developed for each site using random number tables, generated at an independent central registry. The central registry will supply site randomisation schedules to each site pharmacy.
Methods used to generate the sequence in which subjects will be randomised (sequence generation)
Permuted block randomisation
Masking / blinding
Blinded (masking used)
Who is / are masked / blinded?
The people receiving the treatment/s
The people administering the treatment/s
The people assessing the outcomes
Intervention assignment
Other design features
Phase 3
Type of endpoint(s)
Statistical methods / analysis
Intention-to-treat analysis will be used for all statistical comparisons. For the primary outcome, comparisons between groups for delirium-free days, with adjustment to the length of stay and other potential covariates using a general linear model approach will be undertaken. For potential missing data, multiple imputation technique will be applied to handle the missing data. A proper multiple imputation method will be employed that based on various models of assumption including missing completely at random (MCAR), missing at random (MAR), and missing not at random (MNAR). Sensitivity analysis will apply to examine the effects of these different assumptions on the imputed data structure in order to ascertain the most reliable approach.

For the secondary outcomes, time-to-event analysis will be used to determine differences in time to first episode of delirium. Delirium precipitants, which occur at variable times and for different durations during the study period are time-dependent covariates and Cox proportional hazard modelling will be used.
The incidence rate of delirium will also be calculated and compared between the treatment and control groups. For possible toxicity of the medication, incidence of adverse event will be calculated and reported.

Sample size was calculated based on the information obtained in the pilot study on the primary outcome, namely delirium-free days during a 3 week study period, and an analytical approach of comparing the mean delirium-free days between groups. It has been estimated that a sample size of 110 in each arm (n=220 in total) would provide 90% power to reject the null hypothesis with a 5% type I error rate to detect an increase of 2 delirium-free days allowing for 30% drop out or loss to follow-up and 5% for possible adjustments for covariates.

Two planned interim analyses will be conducted independently and reviewed by the independent data and safety monitoring committee after about 33% and 66% of patients have been enrolled. The primary outcome and adverse events will be compared between groups with p<0.001 required as the threshold of stopping the trial for significant evidence of benefit or harm in either one of the treatment arms.

Recruitment status
Date of first participant enrolment
Date of last participant enrolment
Date of last data collection
Sample size
Accrual to date
Recruitment in Australia
Recruitment state(s)
Recruitment hospital [1] 6892 0
Liverpool Hospital - Liverpool
Recruitment hospital [2] 6894 0
Flinders Medical Centre - Bedford Park
Recruitment hospital [3] 6895 0
Sacred Heart Hospice - Darlinghurst
Recruitment hospital [4] 9178 0
Concord Repatriation Hospital - Concord
Recruitment hospital [5] 9179 0
Royal Melbourne Hospital - City campus - Parkville
Recruitment hospital [6] 11998 0
Braeside Hospital - Prairiewood
Recruitment hospital [7] 11999 0
Barwon Health - McKellar Centre campus - North Geelong
Recruitment hospital [8] 12000 0
St Vincent's Hospital (Melbourne) Ltd - Fitzroy
Recruitment hospital [9] 12001 0
St Vincent's Private Hospital - Kew
Recruitment hospital [10] 12002 0
The Canberra Hospital - Garran
Recruitment postcode(s) [1] 14563 0
2010 - Darlinghurst
Recruitment postcode(s) [2] 17814 0
2139 - Concord Repatriation Hospital
Recruitment postcode(s) [3] 14560 0
2170 - Liverpool
Recruitment postcode(s) [4] 24154 0
2176 - Prairiewood
Recruitment postcode(s) [5] 24157 0
2605 - Garran
Recruitment postcode(s) [6] 17815 0
3050 - Royal Melbourne Hospital
Recruitment postcode(s) [7] 24156 0
3065 - Fitzroy
Recruitment postcode(s) [8] 24155 0
3215 - North Geelong
Recruitment postcode(s) [9] 14562 0
5042 - Bedford Park

Funding & Sponsors
Funding source category [1] 294895 0
Name [1] 294895 0
University Technology Sydney
Address [1] 294895 0
Centre for Cardiovascular and Chronic Care
Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney
Level 3, 235 Jones Street, Ultimo, NSW 2007
Country [1] 294895 0
Primary sponsor type
University Technology Sydney
Centre for Cardiovascular and Chronic Care
Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney
Level 3, 235 Jones Street, Ultimo, NSW 2007
Secondary sponsor category [1] 293732 0
Name [1] 293732 0
Address [1] 293732 0
Country [1] 293732 0

Ethics approval
Ethics application status
Ethics committee name [1] 296370 0
HREC of South Western Sydney Local Health District
Ethics committee address [1] 296370 0
Research and Ethics Office
Locked Bag 7103
Ethics committee country [1] 296370 0
Date submitted for ethics approval [1] 296370 0
Approval date [1] 296370 0
Ethics approval number [1] 296370 0

Brief summary
The primary purpose of this trial is to evaluate the effectiveness of melatonin in preventing delirium in hospital inpatients with advanced cancer.

Who is it for?
You may be eligible to enrol in this trial if you are aged 18 or over and have been diagnosed with advanced cancer for which the intention of treatment is not to cure, and have been admitted to an acute or sub-acute inpatient hospital facility within the previous 48 hours.

Study details
All participants enrolled in this trial will be randomly allocated (by chance) to receive either melatonin tablets or placebo (sham) tablets, once per day at night time until delirium occurrence, discharge from the hospital facility, or for a maximum of 3 weeks after any acute medical issues with a delirium risk have been resolved. All participants will be asked to complete a number of questionnaires once per day for the duration of their melatonin/placebo treatment to evaluate levels of delirium and effects on sleep, and researchers will also review medical records to evaluate healthcare resource use.

It is hoped that the findings from this trial will provide information on the efficacy of melatonin as a preventative treatment for delirium in advanced cancer inpatients.
Trial website
Trial related presentations / publications
Public notes
Attachments [2] 1246 1246 0 0

Principal investigator
Name 70218 0
Prof Meera Agar
Address 70218 0
Centre for Cardiovascular and Chronic Care
Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney
Level 3, 235 Jones Street, Ultimo, NSW 2007
Country 70218 0
Phone 70218 0
+6129514 4243
Fax 70218 0
Email 70218 0
Contact person for public queries
Name 70219 0
Prof Meera Agar
Address 70219 0
Centre for Cardiovascular and Chronic Care
Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney
Level 3, 235 Jones Street, Ultimo, NSW 2007
Country 70219 0
Phone 70219 0
+6129514 4243
Fax 70219 0
Email 70219 0
Contact person for scientific queries
Name 70220 0
Prof Meera Agar
Address 70220 0
Centre for Cardiovascular and Chronic Care
Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney
Level 3, 235 Jones Street, Ultimo, NSW 2007
Country 70220 0
Phone 70220 0
+6129514 4243
Fax 70220 0
Email 70220 0

No information has been provided regarding IPD availability
Summary results
No Results