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Design Considerations for Embedded Pragmatic Clinical Trials of Advance Care Planning Interventions for Persons Living With Dementia

      Abstract

      Advance care planning (ACP) is an important part of comprehensive care for persons living with dementia (PLWD). While many trials have established the efficacy of ACP in improving end-of-life communication and documentation of care preferences, there remains a gap in clinical usage. Embedded pragmatic clinical trials (ePCTs) may facilitate the uptake of evidence-based care into existing healthcare by deploying efficacious ACP interventions into real-world settings. However rigorous conduct of ePCTs of ACP for PLWD presents several unique methodological considerations. Here we describe a framework for the construction of these research studies, with a focus on distinguishing between the target of study: the PLWD, their care partners, or both. We outline specific considerations at each step of the research study process including 1) participant identification/eligibility, 2) participant recruitment/enrollment, 3) intervention implementation, and 4) outcome selection/ascertainment. These considerations are weighed in further detail by describing the approaches from three published trials. Specifically, we consider how potential challenges were overcome by tradeoffs in study design. Finally, we offer directions for future growth to advance ePCTs for ACP among PLWD and catalyze future research.

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