Optimizing Measures for Clinical Trials in Covert Hepatic Encephalopathy PI: Elliot B. Tapper, MD Among all complications of cirrhosis, none is more devastating than hepatic encephalopathy (HE). Although it will afflict up to 40% of patients with cirrhosis, HE has few dedicated researchers. A spectrum of neuropsychiatric disability, HE ranges in severity from covert (deficits in executive function) to overt (confusion, even coma). Even covert HE ? the earliest stage ? is independently associated with repeated hospitalization, falls, motor vehicle accidents and death. Unfortunately, strategies to prevent the development HE are limited. Furthermore, investigations of potential therapies are complicated by limited knowledge of both the clinical predictors of HE and impact on patient well-being and daily functions. This grant proposes to close these gaps. The training program aims to prepare the applicant for a career vested in identifying risk factors for HE, and in designing interventions to prevent HE and to improve patient well-being. A master's degree in clinical investigation with targeted additional courses will provide training in clinical trial design, calibration of patient reported measures for clinical trials, and longitudinal data analysis to develop clinical predictive models. The mentorship team assembled is diverse and talented, including Dr. Anna Lok (a clinical trialist and content expert), Dr. Jasmohan Bajaj (an authority on HE and clinical trials), Dr. Noelle Carlozzi (a neuropsychologist with expertise in mixed-methodology), and Dr. Susan Murphy (a trialist with a focus on interventions for frail patients).
In research aim 1, we will determine the most important domains of health related quality of life (HRQOL) for patients with covert HE.
In Aim 2, we will analyze a cohort of 300 cirrhosis patients without HE followed for up to 4 years to determine the modifiable risk factors for HE and to develop predictive models for HE and falls.
In Aim 3, we will launch a pilot intervention aimed at the improvement of HRQOL and prevention of falls in patients with covert HE using a web-based platform that co-ordinates a combination of text-message, email and interactive-voice response to deliver structured encouragement to meet nutritional and exercise goals aimed at improving sarcopenia. By the conclusion of the K23, the applicant will be positioned for academic success with a niche in an important complication of cirrhosis and providing necessary preliminary data for an R01 supporting a larger, randomized trial.

Public Health Relevance

Covert hepatic encephalopathy (HE), the earliest stage of HE, is common (20-80%) among the million or so American patients with cirrhosis. It can be devastating, severely limiting patients? function, and is associated with increased mortality, hospitalization, falls, and motor vehicle accidents. Data are limited regarding the predictors of HE, the impact of HE on patient reported outcomes (PROs), and interventions to prevent the complications (i.e. falls) are lacking. The proposed research will provide novel insights into the PROs that matter most to patients at risk for HE, the modifiable factors associated with new HE, and our ability to improve PROs in patients with covert HE and reduce their risk of HE-complications

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
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Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases D Subcommittee (DDK)
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Osganian, Voula
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University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
Ann Arbor
United States
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