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Impact of Behavioral Nudges on the Quality of Serious Illness Conversations Among Patients With Cancer: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial.

Li EH, Ferrell W, Klaiman T, Kumar P, O'Connor N, Schuchter LM, Chen J, Patel MS, Manz CR, Parikh RB. Impact of Behavioral Nudges on the Quality of Serious Illness Conversations Among Patients With Cancer: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial. JCO oncology practice. 2022 Apr 1; 18(4):e495-e503.

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PURPOSE: Serious Illness Conversations (SICs) are structured conversations between clinicians and patients about prognosis, treatment goals, and end-of-life preferences. Although behavioral interventions may prompt earlier or more frequent SICs, their impact on the quality of SICs is unclear. METHODS: This was a secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial (NCT03984773) among 78 clinicians and 14,607 patients with cancer testing the impact of an automated mortality prediction with behavioral nudges to clinicians to prompt more SICs. We analyzed 318 randomly selected SICs matched 1:1 by clinicians (159 control and 159 intervention) to compare the quality of intervention vs. control conversations using a validated codebook. Comprehensiveness of SIC documentation was used as a measure of quality, with higher integer numbers of documented conversation domains corresponding to higher quality conversations. A conversation was classified as high-quality if its score was = 8 of a maximum of 10. Using a noninferiority design, mixed effects regression models with clinician-level random effects were used to assess SIC quality in intervention vs. control groups, concluding noninferiority if the adjusted odds ratio (aOR) was not significantly < 0.9. RESULTS: Baseline characteristics of the control and intervention groups were similar. Intervention SICs were noninferior to control conversations (aOR 0.99; 95% CI, 0.91 to 1.09). The intervention increased the likelihood of addressing patient-clinician relationship (aOR = 1.99; 95% CI, 1.23 to 3.27; < .01) and decreased the likelihood of addressing family involvement (aOR = 0.56; 95% CI, 0.34 to 0.90; < .05). CONCLUSION: A behavioral intervention that increased SIC frequency did not decrease their quality. Behavioral prompts may increase SIC frequency without sacrificing quality.

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