Habit training versus habit training with direct visual biofeedback in adults with chronic constipation: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial.
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BACKGROUND: Constipation affects up to 20% of adults. Chronic constipation (CC) affects 1-2% of adults. Patient dissatisfaction is high; nearly 80% feel that laxative therapy is unsatisfactory and symptoms have significant impact on quality of life. There is uncertainty about the value of specialist investigations and whether equipment-intensive therapies using biofeedback confer additional benefit when compared with specialist conservative advice. METHODS/DESIGN: A three-arm, parallel-group, multicentre randomised controlled trial. OBJECTIVES: to determine whether standardised specialist-led habit training plus pelvic floor retraining using computerised biofeedback is more clinically effective than standardised specialist-led habit training alone; to determine whether outcomes are improved by stratification based on prior investigation of anorectal and colonic pathophysiology. Primary outcome measure is response to treatment, defined as a 0.4-point (10% of scale) or greater reduction in Patient Assessment of Constipation-Quality of Life (PAC-QOL) score 6 months after the end of treatment. Other outcomes up to 12 months include symptoms, quality of life, health economics, psychological health and qualitative experience. HYPOTHESES: (1) habit training (HT) with computer-assisted direct visual biofeedback (HTBF) results in an average reduction in PAC-QOL score of 0.4 points at 6 months compared to HT alone in unselected adults with CC, (2) stratification to either HT or HTBF informed by pathophysiological investigation (INVEST) results in an average 0.4-point reduction in PAC-QOL score at 6 months compared with treatment not directed by investigations (No-INVEST). Inclusion: chronic constipation in adults (aged 18-70 years) defined by self-reported symptom duration of more than 6 months; failure of previous laxatives or prokinetics and diet and lifestyle modifications. Consenting participants (n = 394) will be randomised to one of three arms in an allocation ratio of 3:3:2:  habit training,  habit training and biofeedback or  investigation-led allocation to one of these arms. Analysis will be on an intention-to-treat basis. DISCUSSION: This trial has the potential to answer some of the major outstanding questions in the management of chronic constipation, including whether costly invasive tests are warranted and whether computer-assisted direct visual biofeedback confers additional benefit to well-managed specialist advice alone. TRIAL REGISTRATION: International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number: ISRCTN11791740. Registered on 16 July 2015.
AuthorsNorton, C; Emmanuel, A; Stevens, N; Scott, SM; Grossi, U; Bannister, S; Eldridge, S; Mason, JM; Knowles, CH
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