Background Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is not in widespread use in UK ambulance services, but could benefit patients with acute respiratory failure (ARF). As a new treatment in this context, clinician acceptability is an important factor in the feasibility of conducting definitive research in the prehospital arena.
Methods As part of a pilot randomised controlled trial (the ACUTE study), recruiting clinicians were emailed after enrolling patients to either the CPAP or standard-care arm, and were asked to complete an optional, anonymous, internet-based survey. The survey used a mixture of closed questions, Likert-scaled answers and free text to explore staff views on both the treatment and the trial procedures. Quantitative responses were analysed descriptively, and qualitative answers thematically.
Results Recruiting clinicians for all 77 patients were sent survey links, with 40 email responses received. Respondents felt confident diagnosing ARF and determining trial eligibility. CPAP-arm respondents found the equipment easy-to-use and felt it did not delay transport to hospital. Most standard-care respondents said they would have liked CPAP to be available to their patients. Respondents described varying responses from receiving hospital staff.
Conclusions Prehospital CPAP seems acceptable to clinicians. Limitations of this survey are that it was targeted only at clinicians who have already opted to take part in the trial, and so may exclude a body of staff who find the treatment unacceptable at face value. Not all clinicians who enrolled patients completed the survey, which could suggest a response bias or simply a reflection of its optional nature within the trial. Future pilot studies could mandate an acceptability survey, and also seek the views of staff not taking part in the interventional study. Trial teams may need to better explain the rationale of comparing a new intervention with standard care, and offer more widespread hospital staff awareness sessions.
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