Home-based exercise therapy in patients awaiting liver transplantation: protocol for an observational feasibility tria

Felicity Williams, Alice Vallance, Thomas Faulkner, Jennifer Towey, Derek Kyte, Simon Durman, Jill Johnson, Andrew Holt, Mapatunage Thamara Perera, James W. Ferguson, Matthew Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
307 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction: Liver disease is the third most common cause of premature mortality in the UK. Liver failure accelerates frailty, resulting in skeletal muscle atrophy, functional decline and an associated risk of liver transplant waiting list mortality. However, there is limited research investigating the impact of exercise on patient outcomes pre and post liver transplantation. The waitlist period for patients listed for liver transplantation provides a unique opportunity to provide and assess interventions such as prehabilitation.

Methods and analysis: This study is a phase I observational study evaluating the feasibility of conducting a randomised control trial (RCT) investigating the use of a home-based exercise programme (HBEP) in the management of patients awaiting liver transplantation. Twenty eligible patients will be randomly selected from the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Birmingham liver transplant waiting list. Participants will be provided with an individually tailored 12-week HBEP, including step targets and resistance exercises. Activity trackers and patient diaries will be provided to support data collection. For the initial 6 weeks, telephone support will be given to discuss compliance with the study intervention, achievement of weekly targets, and to address any queries or concerns regarding the intervention. During weeks 6–12, participants will continue the intervention without telephone support to evaluate longer term adherence to the study intervention. On completing the intervention, all participants will be invited to engage in a focus group to discuss their experiences and the feasibility of an RCT.

Ethics and dissemination: The protocol is approved by the National Research Ethics Service Committee North West - Greater Manchester East and Health Research Authority (REC reference: 17/NW/0120). Recruitment into the study started in April 2017 and ended in July 2017. Follow-up of participants is ongoing and due to finish by the end of 2017. The findings of this study will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications and international presentations. In addition, the protocol will be placed on the British Liver Trust website for public access.

Trial registration number: NCT02949505; Pre-results.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere019298
JournalBMJ open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2018


  • end-stage liver disease
  • functional capacity
  • liver transplantation
  • prehabilitation


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