Health Services, Research and Clinical Trials,

LRH named ‘champion site’ for a palliative care study

Latrobe Regional Health has been named a ‘champion site’ for recruiting the most participants in Victoria for a palliative care study.

The RAPID program is looking at better ways to manage the symptoms of palliative patients by studying the most commonly used medications and non-pharmacological interventions.

RAPID is being overseen by the University of Technology Sydney with sites in all states, and also being run in New Zealand, UK and France.  LRH is participating in two of the 15 series in this study.

One of the series is assessing the drug Ondansetron to treat people with nausea, unrelated to treating cancer, and the other series assesses the use of opioids for managing breathlessness.

LRH principal investigator and palliative care physician Dr Ahmed Nagla said it was a great achievement for LRH and the team to be acknowledged as a champion recruitment site.

Dr Nagla said the data being collected in the two series will advise the future use of these medications in palliative care.

“There are a range of commonly prescribed medications to treat symptoms in palliative care, but we didn’t have much evidence behind which worked best,” Dr Nagla said.

“RAPID is looking to establish the evidence to support these practices.”

The study does not involve the use of any new medications but is assessing usual practices by looking at the benefits and possible side effects, along with assessments from patient feedback.

Dr Nagla said palliative patients at LRH were able to express how they felt after their symptoms were treated.

He said the study would lead to better symptom management and could pave the way for some drugs to be added to the pharmaceutical benefits scheme.

“Recruiting to palliative studies can be very challenging to achieve evidence, as we are dealing with very frail and complex patients who are very sensitive to medications toxicities and side effects,” Dr Nagla said.

“Sources of symptoms can be different and pharmacological management can be complex. This study will help us give appropriate doses to palliative care patients.

“I’m proud of the team because of their hard work building up our research capacity to participate on this level.”