The Prehabilitation Study: Exercise Before Surgery to Improve Patient Function in People

Official Title

The Prehabilitation Study: Exercise Before Surgery to Improve Patient Function in People


The rapid aging of the population means that anesthesiologists care for elderly patients with increasing regularity. Although age is an independent predictor for adverse postoperative outcomes, significant outcome variation exists among older surgical patients. Frailty, a syndrome that describes an aggregate susceptibility to adverse health outcomes due to age-, and disease-related deficits that accumulate across multiple domains is a key predictor of adverse postoperative outcomes in elderly patients. Frail surgical patients are at increased risk of complications, institutionalization, death, and are high healthcare resource users. Multiple stakeholders, including anesthesiologists and patients, have identified improving the outcomes of older patients and preoperative exercise training (prehabilitation) as 2 of the 10 most important areas for future perioperative research. Physical vulnerability is an important aspect of the frailty syndrome, and may be amenable to structured exercise therapy. However, the evidence for preoperative exercise training (prehabilitation) improving postoperative outcomes is obscured by methodological limitations and a focus on non-elderly patients. Recently, evidence has emerged that older and sicker patients may benefit most from prehab, however, this hypothesis has not been formally tested. Because the complex needs of frail perioperative patients require a longitudinal and multidisciplinary approach, the investigators are developing a perioperative surgical home for the frail elderly (PSH-Frail). Development of the PSH-Frail is supported by a robust data collection system, including linkage of prospectively collected data to health administrative data infrastructure to improve efficiency and long-term follow up. The investigators hypothesize that prehabilitation will be a vital intervention supported by the PSH frail, however, high quality evidence from randomized trials is needed to support its efficacy. Therefore, the investigators propose a single centre randomized controlled trial of prehabilitation of frail elderly patients having elective abdominal and thoracic cancer surgery to improve postoperative function (primary outcome), and to decrease postoperative resource utilization (secondary outcomes).

Trial Description

Primary Outcome:

  • Postoperative functional capacity
Secondary Outcome:
  • Functional Mobility
  • Patient-reported health outcomes and adverse events: Health Related Quality of Life - health state
  • Patient-reported health outcomes and adverse events: Health Related Quality of Life
  • Patient-reported health outcomes and adverse events: Disability Free Survival
  • Patient-reported health outcomes and adverse events: Adverse Events
  • Patient-reported health outcomes and adverse events: Adverse Events
  • Patient-reported health outcomes and adverse events: Adverse Events
  • Healthcare resource utilization: hospital length of stay
  • Healthcare resource utilization: proportion of patients discharged to an institution, readmissions within 30 days of discharge
  • Healthcare resource utilization: total healthcare costs
Frailty is a key risk factor for adverse outcomes among the increasingly large number of older patients presenting for surgery. The complexity and risk profile of frail patients makes them a population who may derive significant benefit from the multidisciplinary and continuous care provided by a Perioperative Surgical Home (PSH) model of care. Development of an evidence-based PSH for the frail elderly (PSH-Frail) is the overarching goal of the investigator's research program. However, the PSH-Frail is a complex intervention, and will require high quality evidence to support inclusion of specific processes and interventions into the overall framework. To date, the investigator's research group has undertaken prospective studies to support the routine and accurate identification of frail patients before surgery. The next step in the development of the PSH-Frail is testing interventions to improve the outcomes of frail elderly surgical patients. The role of preoperative exercise training (prehabilitation) in improving postoperative outcomes is a priority research area in perioperative medicine, and may provide its most significant impact in frail elderly patients. However, this hypothesis has not been formally tested. Study design: A single centre, parallel arm randomized controlled trial of home-based prehabilitation vs. standard perioperative care in frail elderly patients undergoing elective surgery for intraabdominal cancer will be conducted. This will be a superiority trial to test the hypothesis that home-based prehabilitation will result in improved postoperative functional outcomes compared to standard care. This protocol is described in keeping with the Standard Protocol Items: Recommendations for Intervention Trials (SPIRIT) guidelines). Study setting: This study will be performed at The Ottawa Hospital (TOH), a 900-bed tertiary care academic health sciences centre serving a catchment area of 1.2 million people. TOH is the regional cancer referral centre for the Eastern portion of the Canadian province of Ontario. On average, cancer patients are seen 4 weeks prior to surgery (as this is a provincial benchmark for cancer care). Sample size: To detect a clinically important 25 meter difference in the primary outcome between study arms, using a two-sided test at the 5% level of significance with 80% power, and assuming a standard deviation of 55 meters based on a previously published trial, we will require 77 patients per arm. To account for up to 20% attrition we will enroll 100 patients per arm. Recruitment: Patients will be recruited from the investigator's hospital's Cancer Assessment Centre. Following cancer diagnosis, patients are seen by a surgeon 4 weeks prior to their scheduled operation. Following surgical assessment and confirmation of the decision to operate, patients who consent to consideration for research contact, and who meet all inclusion criteria except for frailty score, will be assessed by a trained clinician or clinical assistant using the Clinical Frailty Scale (CFS). Patients who score >4/9 on the CFS will then be randomized after providing written informed consent. Intervention: The intervention will be a home-based total-body exercise training program (henceforth referred to as prehabilitation) based on a protocol with proven efficacy in improving the function of non-frail surgical patients in less than 4 weeks of preoperative utilization. Prehabilitation will consist of 3 components: 1) strength training; 2) aerobic exercise and 3) flexibility. Prehabilitation will be prescribed as 1-hour sessions performed a minimum of 3 times per week. Control: Patients randomized to the control group will be provided standard perioperative care as per institutional standards. Patients will receive the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Recommendations for Physical Activity for Health for people 65 years and above pamphlet, as well as Canada's Food Guide. In-hospital perioperative care, and postoperative care, will be at the discretion of each patient's surgeon and anesthesiologist.

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