Update to the study protocol for an implementation-effectiveness trial comparing two education strategies for improving the uptake of noninvasive ventilation in patients with severe COPD exacerbation

Author Department

Healthcare Quality; Medicine; Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Background: There is strong evidence that noninvasive ventilation (NIV) improves the outcomes of patients hospitalized with severe COPD exacerbation, and NIV is recommended as the first-line therapy for these patients. Yet, several studies have demonstrated substantial variation in NIV use across hospitals, leading to preventable morbidity and mortality. In addition, prior studies suggested that efforts to increase NIV use in COPD need to account for the complex and interdisciplinary nature of NIV delivery and the need for team coordination. Therefore, our initial project aimed to compare two educational strategies: online education (OLE) and interprofessional education (IPE), which targets complex team-based care in NIV delivery. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on recruitment and planned intervention, we had made several changes in the study design, statistical analysis, and implementation strategies delivery as outlined in the methods.

Methods: We originally proposed a two-arm, pragmatic, cluster, randomized hybrid implementation-effectiveness trial comparing two education strategies to improve NIV uptake in patients with severe COPD exacerbation in 20 hospitals with a low baseline rate of NIV use. Due to logistical constrains and slow recruitment, we changed the study design to an opened cohort stepped-wedge design with three steps which will allow the institutions to enroll when they are ready to participate. Only the IPE strategy will be implemented, and the education will be provided in an online virtual format. Our primary outcome will be the hospital-level risk-standardized NIV proportion for the period post-IPE training, along with the change in rate from the period prior to training. Aim 1 will compare the change over time of NIV use among patients with COPD in the step-wedged design. Aim 2 will explore the mediators' role (respiratory therapist autonomy and team functionality) on the relationship between the implementation strategies and effectiveness. Finally, in Aim 3, through interviews with providers, we will assess the acceptability and feasibility of the educational training.

Conclusion: The changes in study design will result in several limitation. Most importantly, the hospitals in the three cohorts are not randomized as they enroll based on their readiness. Second, the delivery of the IPE is virtual, and it is not known if remote education is conducive to team building. However, this study will be among the first to test the impact of IPE in the inpatient setting carefully and may generalize to other interventions directed to seriously ill patients.