BACKGROUND: Acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) represents a rising global healthcare burden, characterised by increasing prevalence among patients with decompensated cirrhosis who have a 28-day transplantation-free mortality of 33.9%. Due to disease complexity and a high prevalence of socio-economic disadvantage, there are deficits in quality of care and adherence to guideline-based treatment in this cohort. Compared to other chronic conditions such as heart failure, those with liver disease have reduced access to integrated ambulatory care services. The LivR Well programme is a multidisciplinary intervention aimed at improving 28-day mortality and reducing 30-day readmission through a home-based, liver optimisation programme implemented in the first 28 days after an admission with either ACLF or hepatic decompensation. Outcomes from our feasibility study suggest that the intervention is safe and acceptable to patients and carers. METHODS: We will recruit adult patients with chronic liver disease from the emergency departments, in-patient admissions, and an ambulatory liver clinic of a multi-site quaternary health service in Melbourne, Australia. A total of 120 patients meeting EF-Clif criteria will be recruited to the ACLF arm, and 320 patients to the hepatic decompensation arm. Participants in each cohort will be randomised to the intervention arm, a 28-day multidisciplinary programme or to standard ambulatory care in a 1:1 ratio. The intervention arm includes access to nursing, pharmacy, physiotherapy, dietetics, social work, and neuropsychiatry clinicians. For the ACLF cohort, the primary outcome is 28-day mortality. For the hepatic decompensation cohort, the primary outcome is 30-day re-admission. Secondary outcomes assess changes in liver disease severity and quality of life. An interim analysis will be performed at 50% recruitment to consider early cessation of the trial if the intervention is superior to the control, as suggested in our feasibility study. A cost-effectiveness analysis will be performed. Patients will be followed up for 12 weeks from randomisation. Three exploratory subgroup analyses will be conducted by (a) source of referral, (b) unplanned hospitalisation, and (c) concurrent COVID-19. The trial has been registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry. DISCUSSION: This study implements a multidisciplinary intervention for ACLF patients with proven benefits in other chronic diseases with the addition of novel digital health tools to enable remote patient monitoring during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our feasibility study demonstrates safety and acceptability and suggests clinical improvement in a small sample size. An RCT is required to generate robust outcomes in this frail, high healthcare resource utilisation cohort with high readmission and mortality risk. Interventions such as LivR Well are urgently required but also need to be evaluated to ensure feasibility, replicability, and scalability across different healthcare systems. The implications of this trial include the generalisability of the programme for implementation across regional and urban centres. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) ACTRN12621001703897 . Registered on 13 December 2021. WHO Trial Registration Data Set. See Appendix 1.
- Chronic disease
- Interdisciplinary health team