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Dignity Talk: Helping Palliative Care Patients and Families Have Important Conversations (DTalk)

This study is currently recruiting participants. (see Contacts and Locations)
Verified November 2016 by University of Manitoba
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
University of Manitoba Identifier:
First received: February 11, 2013
Last updated: November 10, 2016
Last verified: November 2016

Dying patients and their families face many challenges near the end-of-life. Not only do patients often experience physical distress, but they also have feelings of loss of dignity, isolation, and uncertainty. Family members also face many challenges. They bear witness to the suffering of loved ones, and they face uncertainty, loss, and at times a mounting sense of helplessness.

The purpose of this study is to introduce and evaluate a new intervention called Dignity Talk, meant to enhance end-of-life experience for both patients and their families. Dignity Talk is based on a set of questions by which terminally ill patients and their family members can engage in meaningful conversations with each other. It is intended to lessen feelings of loss and helplessness and enhance feelings of connectedness by facilitating conversations that tap into a sense of meaning and purpose, sharing of memories, wishes, hopes, and giving guidance to those who will soon be left behind.

In Phase 1, 20 patients and family members will help finalize the method and Dignity Talk question framework (is it easy to understand, do the investigators have the right questions, and is the wording sensitive). In Phase 2 of the study the investigators will ask 100 patient-family pairs for feedback about Dignity Talk: what influence it had on their palliative care experience, whether it works well, and whether this intervention should become a regular part of palliative care. The investigators will also ask for feedback from health-care providers in both phases. Four to six months after the death of their loved one, the investigators will contact the family member to ask their thoughts about Dignity Talk, how it shaped their experience of their grief and bereavement.

The investigators expect that the study will show that Dignity Talk can be an effective, highly accessible palliative care intervention, which will enhance the end-of-life experience for palliative patients and the families who support them.

Condition Intervention
Palliative Care
End of Life Care
Behavioral: Dignity Talk
Behavioral: The Dignity Talk Communication Topics

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Non-Randomized
Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment
Masking: Open Label
Primary Purpose: Supportive Care
Official Title: Dignity Talk: a Novel Palliative Care Intervention for Patients and Their Families

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by University of Manitoba:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Family communication connectedness Index [ Time Frame: 31 months ]

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Number of Participants with Adverse Events as a Measure of Safety and Tolerability [ Time Frame: 31 months ]

Estimated Enrollment: 100
Study Start Date: March 2013
Estimated Primary Completion Date: September 2017 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: Dignity Talk dyad completers
Those dyads where both patient and family member co-participant complete the protocol using the Dignity Talk Communication Topics
Behavioral: Dignity Talk
Patient and family member participants will be given the Dignity Talk framework questions and asked to use them in conversation with each other. Research nurse will return at day 4-6 to confirm both participants have covered all items they wish to discuss. 4-6 months after the death of patient, family members will be contacted in order to collect data pertaining to their bereavement experiences and distress. Will also be asked to complete evaluative feedback on Dignity Talk.
Experimental: Dignity Talk non-completers
Those dyads where patient and family member co-participant either do not complete the protocol or do not use the Dignity Talk Communication Topics (November 2016 - the investigators have not as yet enrolled any participants who have not completed the study without using the Dignity Talk Topics. However some participants have withdrawn from the study without completing.
Behavioral: The Dignity Talk Communication Topics
There have not been any non-completers - this arm not being used currently

Detailed Description:
See above summary

Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

For Patient:

Patients being cared for:

  • in a palliative care unit or whose care is focused on palliation as determined by clinical staff
  • or patients who have have a confirmed diagnosis of amyotropic lateral sclerosis, and have symptoms in a domain that interferes with their social or occupation functioning: a) mobility, b) dysphasia, c) dyspnea, or d) speech or patients who have are have been on dialysis > 3 months and are > 60 years of age - or residents of Personal Care Home all of whom are:
  • 18 years of age or older
  • able to provide informed oral and written consent
  • cognitive capacity (based on clinical consensus)

For Family Member or Close Friend:

  • Family member or close friend who the patient identifies they would be comfortable talking with using the Dignity Talk question framework
  • Family member who is 18 years of age or older
  • Family member who is able to provide oral and written consent
  • Family member who has cognitive capacity to participate in meaningful conversation (based on research staff decision)

For Healthcare Provider:

  • Employed one of the participating sites
  • in a discipline directly involved in clinical care (physician, nursing, social work, spiritual care, allied healthcare, etc.)

Exclusion Criteria:

  • not meeting the above inclusion criteria
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01883375

Contact: Katherine A Cullihall, RN BN 204-787-4924

Canada, British Columbia
Victoria Hospice Not yet recruiting
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Contact: Kalli Stajduhar         
Canada, Manitoba
St. Boniface Hospital Recruiting
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R3E 0V9
Contact: Lorie Forbes, MN    (204) 258-1044   
Principal Investigator: Harvey M Chochinov, MD PhD         
Riverview Health Centre Recruiting
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R3L 2P4
Contact: John B Bond, PhD    (204) 478-6215   
Principal Investigator: Harvey M Chochinov, MD PhD         
Concordia Hospital Active, not recruiting
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Deer Lodge Centre Recruiting
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Contact: Michael Kaan         
Grace Hospital Recruiting
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Contact: Richard Brandt         
Health Sciences Centre Recruiting
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Contact: Beth Sawatzky         
Seven Oaks Hospital Recruiting
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Contact: Evelyn Mitchell         
Victoria Hospital Recruiting
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Contact: Lynne Granke         
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Recruiting
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Contact: Lorie Embleton         
WRHA Personal Care Homes Recruiting
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Contact: Hana Forbes    204-831-2593   
Canada, Ontario
Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice Completed
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, L9B 1B1
Sponsors and Collaborators
University of Manitoba
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
  More Information

Responsible Party: University of Manitoba Identifier: NCT01883375     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: H2013:024
Study First Received: February 11, 2013
Last Updated: November 10, 2016

Keywords provided by University of Manitoba:
Palliative Care
adaptation, psychological processed this record on May 25, 2017