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A rehabilitation intervention to promote physical recovery following intensive care: a detailed description of construct development, rationale and content together with proposed taxonomy to capture processes in a randomised controlled trial

Ramsay, Pam; Salisbury, Lisa G; Merriweather, Judith L; Huby, Guro; Rattray, Janice E; Hull, Alastair M; Brett, Stephen J; MacKenzie, Simon; Murray, Gordon D; Forbes, John F; Walsh, Timothy S


Pam Ramsay

Lisa G Salisbury

Judith L Merriweather

Guro Huby

Janice E Rattray

Alastair M Hull

Stephen J Brett

Simon MacKenzie

Gordon D Murray

John F Forbes

Timothy S Walsh


Background: increasing numbers of patients are surviving critical illness, but survival may be associated with a
constellation of physical and psychological sequelae that can cause on going disability and reduced health-related
quality of life. Limited evidence currently exists to guide the optimum structure, timing, and content of rehabilitation
programmes. There is a need to both develop and evaluate interventions to support and expedite recovery during the post-ICU discharge period. This paper describes the construct development for a complex rehabilitation
intervention intended to promote physical recovery following critical illness. The intervention is currently being
evaluated in a randomised trial (ISRCTN09412438; funder Chief Scientists Office, Scotland).
Methods: the intervention was developed using the Medical Research Council (MRC) framework for developing
complex healthcare interventions. We ensured representation from a wide variety of stakeholders including
content experts from multiple specialties, methodologists, and patient representation. The intervention construct
was initially based on literature review, local observational and audit work, qualitative studies with ICU survivors,
and brainstorming activities. Iterative refinement was aided by the publication of a National Institute for Health
and Care Excellence guideline (No. 83), publicly available patient stories (Healthtalkonline), a stakeholder event in
collaboration with the James Lind Alliance, and local piloting. Modelling and further work involved a feasibility trial and development of a novel generic rehabilitation assistant (GRA) role. Several rounds of external peer review during successive funding applications also contributed to development.
Results: the final construct for the complex intervention involved a dedicated GRA trained to pre-defined
competencies across multiple rehabilitation domains (physiotherapy, dietetics, occupational therapy, and speech/language therapy), with specific training in post-critical illness issues. The intervention was from ICU discharge to 3 months post-discharge, including inpatient and post-hospital discharge elements. Clear strategies to provide information to patients/families were included. A detailed taxonomy was developed to define and describe the processes undertaken, and capture them during the trial. The detailed process measure description, together with a range of patient, health service, and economic outcomes were successfully mapped on to the modified
CONSORT recommendations for reporting non-pharmacologic trial interventions.
Conclusions: the MRC complex intervention framework was an effective guide to developing a novel post-ICU
rehabilitation intervention. Combining a clearly defined new healthcare role with a detailed taxonomy of process and activity enabled the intervention to be clearly described for the purpose of trial delivery and reporting. These data will be useful when interpreting the results of the randomised trial, will increase internal and external trial validity, and help others implement the intervention if the intervention proves clinically and cost effective.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 8, 2014
Publication Date 2014
Deposit Date Jun 28, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jun 28, 2016
Journal Trials
Print ISSN 1745-6215
Electronic ISSN 1745-6215
Publisher BMC
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Article Number 38
Keywords Critical care; Rehabilitation; Complex intervention;
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Jun 28, 2016