INTRODUCTION: Even though respiratory support is a common intervention in paediatric critical care, there is no randomised controlled trial (RCT) evidence regarding the effectiveness of two commonly used modes of non-invasive respiratory support (NRS), continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and high-flow nasal cannula therapy (HFNC). FIRST-line support for assistance in breathing in children is a master protocol of two pragmatic non-inferiority RCTs to evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of HFNC (compared with CPAP) as the first-line mode of support in critically ill children. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: We will recruit participants over a 30-month period at 25 UK paediatric critical care units (paediatric intensive care units/high-dependency units). Patients are eligible if admitted/accepted for admission, aged >36 weeks corrected gestational age and <16 years, and assessed by the treating clinician to require NRS for an acute illness (step-up RCT) or within 72 hours of extubation following a period of invasive ventilation (step-down RCT). Due to the emergency nature of the treatment, written informed consent will be deferred to after randomisation. Randomisation will occur 1:1 to CPAP or HFNC, stratified by site and age (<12 vs ≥12 months). The primary outcome is time to liberation from respiratory support for a continuous period of 48 hours. A total sample size of 600 patients in each RCT will provide 90% power with a type I error rate of 2.5% (one sided) to exclude the prespecified non-inferiority margin of HR of 0.75. Primary analyses will be undertaken separately in each RCT in both the intention-to-treat and per-protocol populations. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This master protocol received favourable ethical opinion from National Health Service East of England-Cambridge South Research Ethics Committee (reference: 19/EE/0185) and approval from the Health Research Authority (reference: 260536). Results will be disseminated via publications in peer-reviewed medical journals and presentations at national and international conferences. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN60048867.
- clinical trials
- paediatric intensive & critical care
- statistics & research methods