Fidelity to a behavioral intervention to improve goals of care decisions for nursing home residents with advanced dementia

Clin Trials. 2016 Dec;13(6):599-604. doi: 10.1177/1740774516650863. Epub 2016 Jun 7.


Background/aims: Ensuring fidelity to a behavioral intervention implemented in nursing homes requires awareness of the unique considerations of this setting for research. The purpose of this article is to describe the goals of care cluster-randomized trial and the methods used to monitor and promote fidelity to a goals of care decision aid intervention delivered in nursing homes.

Methods: The cluster randomized trial tested whether a decision aid for goals of care in advanced dementia could improve (1) the quality of communication and decision-making, (2) the quality of palliative care, and (3) the quality of dying for nursing home residents with advanced dementia. In 11 intervention nursing homes, family decision-makers for residents with advanced dementia received a two-component intervention: viewing a video decision aid about goals of care choices and then participating in a structured decision-making discussion with the nursing home care plan team, ideally within 3 months after the decision aid was viewed. Following guidelines from the National Institutes of Health Behavior Change Consortium, fidelity was assessed in study design, in nursing home staff training for intervention implementation, and in monitoring and receipt of the intervention. We also monitored the content and timing of goals of care discussions.

Results: Investigators enrolled 151 family decision-maker/resident dyads in intervention sites; of those, 136 (90%) received both components of the intervention, and 92%-99% of discussions addressed each of four recommended content areas-health status, goals of care, choice of a goal, and treatment planning. A total of 94 (69%) of the discussions between family decision-makers and the nursing home care team were completed within 3 months.

Conclusion: The methods we used for intervention fidelity allowed nursing home staff to implement a goals of care decision aid intervention for advanced dementia. Key supports for implementation included design features that aligned with nursing home practice, efficient staff training, and a structured guide for goals of care discussions between family decision-makers and staff. These approaches may be used to promote fidelity to behavioral interventions in future clinical trials.

Trial registration: NCT01565642.

Keywords: Fidelity; behavioral intervention; dementia; nursing home.

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Decision Making*
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Family*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Palliative Care*
  • Patient Care Planning*
  • Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Proxy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic

Associated data