Self-management intervention to reduce pulmonary exacerbations by supporting treatment adherence in adults with cystic fibrosis: a randomised controlled trial

Martin J Wildman, Alicia O'Cathain, Chin Maguire, Madelynne A Arden, Marlene Hutchings, Judy Bradley, Stephen J Walters, Pauline Whelan, John Ainsworth, Iain Buchan Buchan, Laura Mandefield, Laura Sutton, Paul Tappenden, Rachel A Elliott, Z Hui Hoo, Sarah J Drabble, Daniel Beever

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Introduction Recurrent pulmonary exacerbations lead to progressive lung damage in cystic fibrosis (CF). Inhaled medications (mucoactive agents and antibiotics) help prevent exacerbations, but objectively measured adherence is low. We investigated whether a multi-component (complex) self-management intervention to support adherence would reduce exacerbation rates over 12 months.

Methods Between October 2017 and May 2018, adults with CF (aged ≥16 years; 19 UK centres) were randomised to the intervention (data-logging nebulisers, a digital platform and behavioural change sessions with trained clinical interventionists) or usual care (data-logging nebulisers). Outcomes included pulmonary exacerbations (primary outcome), objectively measured adherence, body mass index (BMI), lung function (FEV1) and Cystic Fibrosis Questionnaire-Revised (CFQ-R). Analyses were by intent to treat over 12 months.

Results Among intervention (n=304) and usual care (n=303) participants (51% female, median age 31 years), 88% completed 12-month follow-up. Mean exacerbation rate was 1.63/year with intervention and 1.77/year with usual care (adjusted ratio 0.96; 95% CI 0.83 to 1.12; p=0.64). Adjusted mean differences (95% CI) were in favour of the intervention versus usual care for objectively measured adherence (9.5% (8.6% to 10.4%)) and BMI (0.3 (0.1 to 0.6) kg/m2), with no difference for %FEV1 (1.4 (−0.2 to 3.0)). Seven CFQ-R subscales showed no between-group difference, but treatment burden reduced for the intervention (3.9 (1.2 to 6.7) points). No intervention-related serious adverse events occurred.

Conclusions While pulmonary exacerbations and FEV1 did not show statistically significant differences, the intervention achieved higher objectively measured adherence versus usual care. The adherence difference might be inadequate to influence exacerbations, though higher BMI and lower perceived CF treatment burden were observed.

Data availability statement
Data are available on reasonable request. Requests for patient level data and statistical code should be made to the corresponding author and will be considered by members of the original trial management group, including the chief investigators and members of clinical trials research unit, who will release data on a case-by-case basis. Data will be shared following the principles for sharing patient level data as described by Tudur Smith C, et al BMC Medicine 2015;13:298 ( The data will not contain any direct identifiers, and we will minimise indirect identifiers and remove free-text data to minimise the risk of identification.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date23 Sep 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 23 Sep 2021


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