Patient, family caregiver, and economic outcomes of an integrated screening and novel stepped collaborative care intervention in the oncology setting in the USA (CARES): a randomised, parallel, phase 3 trial

Jennifer L. Steel*, Charles J. George, Lauren Terhorst, Jonathan G. Yabes, Vincent Reyes, Dan P. Zandberg, Marci Nilsen, Gauri Kiefer, Jonas Johnson, Christopher Marsh, Jason Bierenbaum, Nishant Tageja, Michal Krauze, Robert VanderWeele, Gaurav Goel, Gopala Ramineni, Michael Antoni, Yoram Vodovotz, Jon Walker, Samer TohmeTimothy Billiar, David A. Geller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The current standard of care of screening and referring patients for treatment for symptoms, such as depression, pain, and fatigue, is not effective. This trial aimed to test the efficacy of an integrated screening and novel stepped collaborative care intervention versus standard of care for patients with cancer and at least one of the following symptoms: depression, pain, or fatigue. Methods: This randomised, parallel, phase 3 trial was conducted in 29 oncology outpatient clinics associated with the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center in the USA. Patients (aged ≥21 years) with any cancer type and clinical levels of depression, pain, or fatigue (or all of these) were eligible. Eligible family caregivers were aged 21 years or older and providing care to a patient diagnosed with cancer who consented for this study. Patients were randomly assigned (1:1) to stepped collaborative care or standard of care using a central, permuted block design (sizes of 2, 4, and 6) stratified by sex and prognostic status. The biostatistician, oncologists, and outcome assessors were masked to treatment assignment. Stepped collaborative care was once-weekly cognitive behavioural therapy for 50–60 min from a care coordinator via telemedicine (eg, telephone or videoconferencing). Pharmacotherapy for symptoms might be initiated or changed if recommended by the treatment team or preferred by the patient. Standard of care was screening and referral to a health-care provider for treatment of symptoms. The primary outcome was health-related quality of life in patients at 6 months. Maintenance of the treatment benefits was assessed at 12 months. Participants included in the primary analysis were per intention to treat, which included patients missing one or both follow-up assessments. This trial was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02939755). Findings: Between Dec 5, 2016, and April 8, 2021, 459 patients and 190 family caregivers were enrolled. 222 patients were assigned to standard of care and 237 to stepped collaborative care. Of 459 patients, 201 (44%) were male and 258 (56%) were female. Patients in the stepped collaborative care group had a greater 0–6-month improvement in health-related quality of life than patients in the standard-of-care group (p=0·013, effect size 0·09). Health-related quality of life was maintained for the stepped collaborative care group (p=0·74, effect size 0·01). Patients in the stepped collaborative care group had greater 0–6-month improvements than the standard-of-care group in emotional (p=0·012), functional (p=0·042), and physical (p=0·033) wellbeing. No adverse events were reported by patients in either group and deaths were considered unrelated to the study. Interpretation: An integrated screening and novel stepped collaborative care intervention, compared with the current standard of care, is recommended to improve health-related quality of life. The findings of this study will advance the implementation of guideline concordant care (screening and treatment) and has the potential to shift the practice of screening and treatment paradigm nationwide, improving outcomes for patients diagnosed with cancer. Funding: US National Cancer Institute.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1351-1361
Number of pages11
JournalThe Lancet
Volume403
Issue number10434
DOIs
StatePublished - 6 Apr 2024
Externally publishedYes

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