A cluster randomised trial of a Needs Assessment Tool for adult Cancer patients and their carers (NAT-C) in primary care: A feasibility study

Joseph Clark*, Elvis Amoakwa, Alexandra Wright-Hughes, John Blenkinsopp, David C. Currow, David Meads, Amanda Farrin, Victoria Allgar, Una Macleod, Miriam Johnson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: People with cancer often have unidentified symptoms and social care needs. The Needs Assessment Tool-Cancer (NAT-C) is a validated, structured method of assessing patient/carer concerns and prompting action, to address unmet need. Aims: Assess feasibility and acceptability of a definitive two-armed cluster randomised trial of NAT-C in primary care by evaluating: recruitment of GP practices, patients and carers; most effective approach of ensuring NAT-C appointments, acceptability of study measures and follow-up. Methods: Non-blinded, feasibility study in four General Practices, with cluster randomisation to method of NAT-C appointment delivery, and process evaluation. Adults with active cancer were invited to participate with or without carer. Practices cluster randomised (1:1) to Arm I: promotion and use of NAT-C with a NAT-C trained clinician or Arm II: clinician of choice irrespective of training status. Participants completed study questionnaires at: baseline, 1, 3 and 6 months. Patients booked a 20 minute needs-assessment appointment post-baseline. Patients, carers and GP practice staff views regarding the study sought through interviews/focus groups. Quantitative data were analysed descriptively. Qualitative data were analysed thematically, informed by Normalisation Process Theory. Progression to a definitive trial was assessed against feasibility outcomes, relating to: recruitment rate, uptake and delivery of the NAT-C, data collection and quality. Results: Five GP practices approached, four recruited and trained to use the NAT-C. Forty-seven participants and 17 carers recruited. At baseline, 34/47 (72%) participants reported at least one moderate-severe unmet need, confirming study rationale. 32/47 (68%) participants received a NAT-C-guided consultation, 19 of which on Arm I. Study attrition at one month (n = 44 (94%), n = 16 (94%)), three months (n = 38 (81%), n = 14 (82%)) and six months (n = 32 (68%), n = 10 (59%)). Fifteen patient interviews conducted across the whole study and one focus group at each GP practice. Participants supported a definitive study and found measures acceptable. Conclusion: The feasibility trial indicated that recruitment rate, intervention uptake and data collection were appropriate, with refinements, for a definitive multi-centre cluster randomised controlled trial. Feasibility outcomes informed the design of a 2-armed cluster randomised controlled trial to test the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the NAT-C compared with usual care.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0245647
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2021


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