Background: Parents of children with chronic kidney disease (CKD) experience high levels of stress in the daily management of their child's illness. Parents need continuously available support and information, yet online support programs are lacking. e-Powered Parents was developed to fill this gap; it is an online program consisting of (1) medical information, (2) an interactive part, and (3) four training modules (stress management, setting limits, communication, and coping). Prior to a large-scale evaluation, we conducted a feasibility study that consisted of an effect study and a process evaluation.
Objective: The objectives of our study were to (1) identify the outcome measures that are most likely to capture the potential benefit, (2) evaluate the potential effectiveness and effect size, and (3) evaluate recruitment, reach, the dose received, and context.
Methods: We conducted a feasibility study with a two-armed, wait-list randomized controlled trial (RCT). Prior to baseline, parents (n=146) were randomly allocated to group 1 or group 2. After completing the baseline questionnaire, parents in group 1 were given access to e-Powered Parents, while those in group 2 received usual care. At the 6-month follow-up (T1), all parents received a questionnaire and parents in group 2 were given access to e-Powered Parents as well. After 1.5 years, through an extra measurement (T2), we evaluated the effect of long-term exposure. Outcomes were the child's quality of life (Child Vulnerability Scale), parental stress (Pediatric Inventory for Parents) and fatigue (Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory), self-efficacy in communication with health care professionals (Perceived Efficacy in Patient-Physician Interactions, PEPPI-5), and parental perceptions of family management (Family Management Measure). Floor and ceiling effects and percentage of parents showing no change in scores were calculated. We used linear mixed models to evaluate the potential effectiveness and effect sizes using the intention-to-treat and per-protocol analyses. In the process evaluation, we evaluated recruitment, reach, the dose received, and context using a questionnaire sent to the parents, log-in data, and a focus group interview with health care professionals.
Results: At T1 (n=86) and T2 (n=51), no significant effects were found on any of the five outcomes. The PEPPI-5 showed ceiling effects and high percentages of parents showing no change between the measurement times. The information and interactive part of the intervention were used by 84% (57/68) of the parents in group 1 and 49% (32/65) of the parents in group 2. The information pages were visited most often. Overall, 64% (85/133) of the parents logged in to the training platform and 31% (26/85) actually used the training modules.
Conclusions: We did not observe any significant effect on any of the outcomes. This could possibly be explained by the minimal use of the intervention and by parents' heterogeneity. For continued participation, we recommend a tailored intervention and further studies to find out whether and how online programs could be used to support parents in the management of their child's CKD.
Trial registration: Netherlands Trial Registry NTR4808; http://www.trialregister.nl/trialreg/admin/rctview.asp?TC=4808 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/719rCicvW).
Keywords: child; chronic kidney disease; chronic kidney failure; effect evaluation; health promotion; process evaluation.
©Wytske W Geense, Betsie GI van Gaal, Jaqueline L Knoll, Nienke M Maas, Gerjo Kok, Elisabeth AM Cornelissen, Maria WG Nijhuis-van der Sanden. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 01.08.2018.