Behavioural ‘nudging’ interventions to reduce low-value care for low back pain in the emergency department (NUDGED): protocol for a 2×2 factorial, before-after, cluster randomised trial

NUDG-ED Study Group, Gemma Altinger, Sweekriti Sharma, Chris G. Maher, Louise Cullen, Kirsten McCaffery, Jeffrey A. Linder, Rachelle Buchbinder, Ian A. Harris, Enrico Coiera, Qiang Li, Kirsten Howard, Andrew Coggins, Paul M. Middleton, Naren Gunja, Ian Ferguson, Trevor Chan, Karen Tambree, Ajay Varshney, Adrian C. Traeger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Introduction:

Opioids and imaging are considered low-value care for most people with low back pain. Yet around one in three people presenting to the emergency department (ED) will receive imaging, and two in three will receive an opioid. NUDG-ED aims to determine the effectiveness of two different behavioural ‘nudge’ interventions on low-value care for ED patients with low back pain. 

Methods and analysis:

NUDG-ED is a 2×2 factorial, open-label, before-after, cluster randomised controlled trial. The trial includes 8 ED sites in Sydney, Australia. Participants will be ED clinicians who manage back pain, and patients who are 18 years or over presenting to ED with musculoskeletal back pain. EDs will be randomly assigned to receive (i) patient nudges, (ii) clinician nudges, (iii) both interventions or (iv) no nudge control. The primary outcome will be the proportion of encounters in ED for musculoskeletal back pain where a person received a non-indicated lumbar imaging test, an opioid at discharge or both. We will require 2416 encounters over a 9-month study period (3-month before period and 6-month after period) to detect an absolute difference of 10% in use of low-value care due to either nudge, with 80% power, alpha set at 0.05 and assuming an intra-class correlation coefficient of 0.10, and an intraperiod correlation of 0.09. Patient-reported outcome measures will be collected in a subsample of patients (n≥456) 1 week after their initial ED visit. To estimate effects, we will use a multilevel regression model, with a random effect for cluster and patient, a fixed effect indicating the group assignment of each cluster and a fixed effect of time. 

Ethics and dissemination:

This study has ethical approval from Southwestern Sydney Local Health District Human Research Ethics Committee (2023/ETH00472). We will disseminate the results of this trial via media, presenting at conferences and scientific publications.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere079870
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBMJ Open
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2024

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