Performing a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in the field of nutrition is challenging and success highly depends on understanding the factors that influence recruitment and dropout of participants. Our aim was to assess the feasibility of a RCT that evaluated a home delivered meal service in advanced cancer patients while receiving chemotherapy.
This pilot RCT aimed to enroll 20 participants who were randomized into the home delivered meal service group or usual care group. Study procedures took place before chemotherapy (T0), 3 weeks after T0 (T1), 6 weeks after T0 (T2) and 3 months after T2 (T3). All information regarding recruitment, dropout and study procedures was recorded. Patient satisfaction was assessed by in-depth interviews.
Over 7 months, 20 of 41 approached patients (49%) were included, followed by a dropout rate of 35%. At baseline, hand grip strength (n = 8/16), the Short Physical Performance Battery (n = 12/16) and nutritional intake (n = 8/16) had the highest rate of missing values. Study procedures were not experienced as burdensome and planning of these procedures in line with fixed hospital appointments contributed to this low burden. Keeping the symptom diary was mentioned as being burdensome.
It is feasible to conduct a RCT on a home delivered meal service in advanced cancer patients during chemotherapy, although recruitment is challenging. Close contact of patients with recruiting personnel is essential to sustain motivation. To increase compliance with the study protocol it is important to carefully instruct participants on how to complete questionnaires and to emphasize to use these in the communication with their practitioners.
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03382171 .