Rationale, design and methodology of a trial evaluating three strategies designed to improve sedation quality in intensive care units (DESIST study)

Development and Evaluation of Strategies to Improve Sedation practice in inTensive care (DESIST) study investigators, Timothy S Walsh, Kalliopi Kydonaki, Jean Antonelli, Jacqueline Stephen, Robert J Lee, Kirsty Everingham, Janet Hanley, Kimmo Uutelo, Petra Peltola, Christopher J Weir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To describe the rationale, design and methodology for a trial of three novel interventions developed to improve sedation-analgesia quality in adult intensive care units (ICUs).

PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: 8 clusters, each a Scottish ICU. All mechanically ventilated sedated patients were potentially eligible for inclusion in data analysis.

DESIGN: Cluster randomised design in 8 ICUs, with ICUs randomised after 45 weeks baseline data collection to implement one of four intervention combinations: a web-based educational programme (2 ICUs); education plus regular sedation quality feedback using process control charts (2 ICUs); education plus a novel sedation monitoring technology (2 ICUs); or all three interventions. ICUs measured sedation-analgesia quality, relevant drug use and clinical outcomes, during a 45-week preintervention and 45-week postintervention period separated by an 8-week implementation period. The intended sample size was >100 patients per site per study period.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome was the proportion of 12 h care periods with optimum sedation-analgesia, defined as the absence of agitation, unnecessary deep sedation, poor relaxation and poor ventilator synchronisation. Secondary outcomes were proportions of care periods with each of these four components of optimum sedation and rates of sedation-related adverse events. Sedative and analgesic drug use, and ICU and hospital outcomes were also measured.

ANALYTIC APPROACH: Multilevel generalised linear regression mixed models will explore the effects of each intervention taking clustering into account, and adjusting for age, gender and APACHE II score. Sedation-analgesia quality outcomes will be explored at ICU level and individual patient level. A process evaluation using mixed methods including quantitative description of intervention implementation, focus groups and direct observation will provide explanatory information regarding any effects observed.

CONCLUSIONS: The DESIST study uses a novel design to provide system-level evaluation of three contrasting complex interventions on sedation-analgesia quality. Recruitment is complete and analysis ongoing.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e010148
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2016


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