Objectives Low tidal volume (TVe) ventilation improves outcomes for ventilated patients, and the majority of clinicians state they implement it. Unfortunately, most patients never receive low TVes. ‘Nudges’ influence decision-making with subtle cognitive mechanisms and are effective in many contexts. There have been few studies examining their impact on clinical decision-making. We investigated the impact of 2 interventions designed using principles from behavioural science on the deployment of low TVe ventilation in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Setting University Hospitals Bristol, a tertiary, mixed medical and surgical ICU with 20 beds, admitting over 1300 patients per year.
Participants Data were collected from 2144 consecutive patients receiving controlled mechanical ventilation for more than 1 hour between October 2010 and September 2014. Patients on controlled mechanical ventilation for more than 20 hours were included in the final analysis.
Interventions (1) Default ventilator settings were adjusted to comply with low TVe targets from the initiation of ventilation unless actively changed by a clinician. (2) A large dashboard was deployed displaying TVes in the format mL/kg ideal body weight (IBW) with alerts when TVes were excessive.
Primary outcome measure TVe in mL/kg IBW.
Findings TVe was significantly lower in the defaults group. In the dashboard intervention, TVe fell more quickly and by a greater amount after a TVe of 8 mL/kg IBW was breached when compared with controls. This effect improved in each subsequent year for 3 years.
Conclusions This study has demonstrated that adjustment of default ventilator settings and a dashboard with alerts for excessive TVe can significantly influence clinical decision-making. This offers a promising strategy to improve compliance with low TVe ventilation, and suggests that using insights from behavioural science has potential to improve the translation of evidence into practice.
- behavioural science
- low tidal volume ventilation
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