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Trial registered on ANZCTR

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

Titles & IDs
Public title
Family meetings for hospitalized palliative care patients: Benefits and resource implications
Scientific title
For family carers of hospitalised palliative care patients, does a Structured Family Meeting shortly after admission to palliative care, compared to standard care only, improve psychological distress?
Secondary ID [1] 286133 0
Universal Trial Number (UTN)
Trial acronym
Linked study record

Health condition
Health condition(s) or problem(s) studied:
Psychological distress 294139 0
palliative care 294140 0
Condition category
Condition code
Public Health 294460 294460 0 0
Health service research
Mental Health 294461 294461 0 0
Other mental health disorders

Study type
Description of intervention(s) / exposure
A structured family meeting which is a meeting with key members of the family and key members of the health care team to discuss prognosis, plan care and address concerns of the family members. One structured family meeting will be conducted shortly following admission to palliative care (for the intervention group). The meeting will be held at the hospital and be approximately one hour in duration.
Intervention code [1] 291132 0
Treatment: Other
Comparator / control treatment
Standard treatment which includes all aspects of regular care from the palliative care team (including medical, nursing and psychosocial care) and may include some form of family meeting or discussion with the family.
Control group

Primary outcome [1] 294246 0
Psychological Distress measured by the General Health Questionnaire
Timepoint [1] 294246 0
Psychological distress 8 weeks post-bereavement
Secondary outcome [1] 312868 0
Unmet needs as measured by the Family Inventory of Needs (FIN)
Timepoint [1] 312868 0
Unmet needs 10 days after time 1 data collection (approximately two weeks after admission to palliative care)
Secondary outcome [2] 312869 0
Quality of Life (SF-12)
Timepoint [2] 312869 0
Quality of life 8 weeks post-bereavement

Key inclusion criteria
Family members of hospitalised patients with advanced, non-curable disease referred to a specialist palliative care in-patient unit or palliative care consultancy service for inpatients who have been nominated by a patient as their primary support person and willing to attend a Structured Family Meeting if allocated to the intervention arm.
Minimum age
18 Years
Maximum age
No limit
Both males and females
Can healthy volunteers participate?
Key exclusion criteria
Under 18; unable to understand English; unable to provide informed consent due to cognitive impairment; or not agreeable to being considered the primary family carer. A family carer of a patient who is imminently dying (unlikely to be alive in 7 days).

Study design
Purpose of the study
Educational / counselling / training
Allocation to intervention
Non-randomised trial
Procedure for enrolling a subject and allocating the treatment (allocation concealment procedures)
Allocation is not concealed
Methods used to generate the sequence in which subjects will be randomised (sequence generation)
Not relevant
Masking / blinding
Open (masking not used)
Who is / are masked / blinded?

Intervention assignment
Other design features
There are three sites participating in this trial. For th first six months all sites will recruit participants to the control condition. At six months, two of the three sites will be randomly selected (pulling two site names out of an envelope) to be the intervention sites. All participants recruited from the two intervention sites from that point will be recruited to the intervention condition. The remaining site will continue to recruit participants to the control condition only.
Not Applicable
Type of endpoint(s)
Statistical methods / analysis
The primary outcome (H1) is measured via the General Health Questionnair (GHQ), a 12-item scale with a possible range of 0-36. Our previous study of 275 carers in which the mean GHQ difference was 2.8 (SD=5.6), represents a medium effect size (ES) of 0.5 which is a common estimate of a minimal important difference. The sample size calculations are based on a smaller mean difference between groups of 2.4, as some carers in the control group will have family meetings as part of standard care. Estimated sample size for two-sample comparison of means Test Ho: m1 = m2, where m1 is the mean in population 1and m2 is the mean in population 2 is 97 per group (total n=194). This calculation assumes that alpha=.05 (two sided), power=.90 (90%), m1=16.8, m2-14, sd1=6, sd2=6, n2/n1=1.00. In order to ensure a robust sample we aim to recruit 70 participants per site (total of n=210).

The main analyses will be performed on pooled data across sites for the intervention and control groups, following an analyses of the baseline data to identify any differences between sites. We will undertake analyses as follows. Summary statistics will be calculated to compare the characteristics of carers in each group. Linear mixed models will be used to (1) compare patterns of change over time by testing the intervention group by time interaction and (2) estimating and testing differences in scores between groups at T2 and at T3 via linear contrasts, and accounting for the non-independent nature of the data in clusters.

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] 3450 0
St Vincent's Hospital (Melbourne) Ltd - Fitzroy
Recruitment hospital [2] 3451 0
Royal Melbourne Hospital - City campus - Parkville
Recruitment hospital [3] 3452 0
Austin Health - Austin Hospital - Heidelberg

Funding & Sponsors
Funding source category [1] 290751 0
Government body
Name [1] 290751 0
Victorian Cancer Agency
Address [1] 290751 0
Address: 50 Lonsdale St, Melbourne
Postal: GPO Box 4057 (Level 15)

Country [1] 290751 0
Primary sponsor type
Centre for Palliative Care, St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne
PO Box 2900,
Fitzroy VIC 3065
Secondary sponsor category [1] 289436 0
Name [1] 289436 0
Austin Health
Address [1] 289436 0
145 Studley Road
Heidelberg VIC 3084

Country [1] 289436 0
Secondary sponsor category [2] 289437 0
Name [2] 289437 0
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Address [2] 289437 0
300 Grattan Street
Parkville VIC 3050

Country [2] 289437 0

Ethics approval
Ethics application status
Ethics committee name [1] 292381 0
St Vincent's Health Human Research Ethics Committee (Low Risk)
Ethics committee address [1] 292381 0
41 Victoria Parade,
Fitzroy VIC 3065
Ethics committee country [1] 292381 0
Date submitted for ethics approval [1] 292381 0
Approval date [1] 292381 0
Ethics approval number [1] 292381 0
LRR 128/14
Ethics committee name [2] 292382 0
Melbourne Health Human Research Ethics Committee
Ethics committee address [2] 292382 0
Office for Research
Level 6 East, Central Building
The Royal Melbourne Hospital – City Campus
300 Grattan Street, Parkville Victoria, 3050
Ethics committee country [2] 292382 0
Date submitted for ethics approval [2] 292382 0
Approval date [2] 292382 0
Ethics approval number [2] 292382 0
HREC 2014 208
Ethics committee name [3] 292383 0
Austin Health Human Research Ethics Committee
Ethics committee address [3] 292383 0
145 Studley Road
Heidelberg, VIC 3084
Ethics committee country [3] 292383 0
Date submitted for ethics approval [3] 292383 0
Approval date [3] 292383 0
Ethics approval number [3] 292383 0

Brief summary
Family meetings are recommended as standard practice, as a way for health professionals, together with family members and patients (where able) to discuss goals of care, site of care options, psychosocial issues, and plans for the future. However, family meetings do not occur consistently and are rarely conducted according to best available evidence. This research project aims to determine whether conducting a structured family meeting on admission to palliative care improves outcomes for patients and family members. This project also aims to determine the cost and resource implications of implementing family meetings into routine care.
This research is significant because it will provide important evidence about what is optimal care for patients receiving palliative care and their family members. Further, it will provide information on the cost and resource implications of implementing family meetings into routine care. It is hoped that clinical practice will be improved as a result of this project.
Trial website
Trial related presentations / publications
Public notes

Principal investigator
Name 54766 0
Prof Peter Hudson
Address 54766 0
Centre for Palliative Care
PO Box 2900
Fitzroy VIC 3065
Country 54766 0
Phone 54766 0
+61 3 9416 0000
Fax 54766 0
+61 3 9416 3919
Email 54766 0
Contact person for public queries
Name 54767 0
Prof Peter Hudson
Address 54767 0
Centre for Palliative Care
PO Box 2900
Fitzroy VIC 3065
Country 54767 0
Phone 54767 0
+61 3 9416 0000
Fax 54767 0
+61 3 9416 3919
Email 54767 0
Contact person for scientific queries
Name 54768 0
Prof Peter Hudson
Address 54768 0
Centre for Palliative Care
PO Box 2900
Fitzroy VIC 3065
Country 54768 0
Phone 54768 0
+61 3 9416 0000
Fax 54768 0
+61 3 9416 3919
Email 54768 0

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