Patient-centred rehabilitation for non-communicable disease in a low-resource setting: study protocol for a feasibility and proof-of-concept randomised clinical trial

BMJ Open. 2019 Apr 11;9(4):e025732. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-025732.


Introduction: Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death globally. Even though NCD disproportionally affects low-to-middle income countries, these countries including South Africa, often have limited capacity for the prevention and control of NCDs. The standard evidence-based care for the long-term management of NCDs includes rehabilitation. However, evidence for the effectiveness of rehabilitation for NCDs originates predominantly from high-income countries. Despite the disproportionate disease burden in low-resourced settings, and due to the complex context and constraints in these settings, the delivery and study of evidence-based rehabilitation treatment in a low-resource setting is poorly understood. This study aims to test the design, methodology and feasibility of a minimalistic, patient-centred, rehabilitation programme for patients with NCD specifically designed for and conducted in a low-resource setting.

Methods and analysis: Stable patients with cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and/or diabetes mellitus will be recruited over the course of 1 year from a provincial day hospital located in an urban, low-resourced setting (Bishop Lavis, Cape Town, South Africa). A postponed information model will be adopted to allocate patients to a 6-week, group-based, individualised, patient-centred rehabilitation programme consisting of multimodal exercise, exercise education and health education; or usual care (ie, no care). Outcomes include feasibility measures, treatment fidelity, functional capacity (eg, 6 min walking test), physical activity level, health-related quality of life and a patient-perspective economic evaluation. Outcomes are assessed by a blinded assessor at baseline, postintervention and 8-week follow-up. Mixed-method analyses will be conducted to inform future research.

Ethics and dissemination: This study has been approved by the Health Research and Ethics Council, Stellenbosch University (M17/09/031). Information gathered in this research will be published in peer-reviewed journals, presented at national and international conferences, as well as local stakeholders.

Trial registration number: PACTR201807847711940; Pre-results.

Keywords: cardiovascular diseases; chronic obstructive; developing countries; diabetes mellitus; feasibility studies; neoplasms; noncommunicable diseases; pulmonary disease; randomised controlled trial; rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Feasibility Studies
  • Health Resources
  • Humans
  • Noncommunicable Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Patient-Centered Care*
  • Proof of Concept Study*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods*
  • Research Design*

Associated data

  • PACTR/PACTR201807847711940