Adult Congenital Heart Disease-Coping And REsilience (ACHD-CARE): Rationale and methodology of a pilot randomized controlled trial

Contemp Clin Trials. 2015 Nov;45(Pt B):385-393. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2015.11.002. Epub 2015 Nov 9.


Introduction: One-third of North American adults with congenital heart disease (CHD) have diagnosable mood or anxiety disorders and most do not receive mental health treatment. There are no published interventions targeting the psychosocial needs of patients with CHD of any age. We describe the development of a group psychosocial intervention aimed at improving the psychosocial functioning, quality of life, and resilience of adults with CHD and the design of a study protocol to determine the feasibility of a potential full-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT).

Methods/design: Drawing upon our quantitative and qualitative research, we developed the Adult CHD-Coping And REsilience (ACHD-CARE) intervention and designed a feasibility study that included a 2-parallel arm non-blinded pilot RCT. Eligible participants (CHD, age ≥ 18 years, no planned surgery, symptoms suggestive of a mood and/or anxiety disorder) were randomized to the ACHD-CARE intervention or Usual Care (1:1 allocation ratio). The group intervention was delivered during eight 90-minute weekly sessions. Feasibility will be assessed in the following domains: (i) process (e.g. recruitment and retention), (ii) resources, (iii) management, (iv) scientific outcomes, and (v) intervention acceptability.

Discussion: This study underscores the importance of carefully developing and testing the feasibility of psychosocial interventions in medical populations before moving to full-scale clinical trials. At study conclusion, we will be poised to make one of three determinations for a full-scale RCT: (1) feasible, (2) feasible with modifications, or (3) not feasible. This study will guide the future evaluation and provision of psychosocial treatment for adults with CHD.

Keywords: Anxiety; Congenital heart disease; Depression; Feasibility; Intervention.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Awareness
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / epidemiology
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mood Disorders / therapy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life
  • Research Design
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Young Adult