A groundbreaking clinical trial is set to change the way nutrition is delivered in intensive care units (ICUs) worldwide. The Protein provision REcovery after Critical Illness trial, known as PRECISe, is a cutting-edge study designed to determine the benefits of high versus standard enteral protein provision in the recovery of adult, mechanically ventilated, critically ill patients. The trial’s protocol, promising a novel Bayesian analytical approach, has been detailed in “Clinical Nutrition ESPEN,” and is turning heads in the medical and nutrition science communities.

Published on February 16, 2024, in the esteemed journal, the paper titled “The impact of high versus standard enteral protein provision on functional recovery following intensive care admission: Protocol for a pre-planned secondary Bayesian analysis of the PRECISe trial” outlines the study’s meticulous plan. Authored by a team of experts led by Dr. Marcel C.G. van de Poll of Maastricht University Medical Center+, the research is set to make significant contributions to clinical nutrition. As pre-planned, this Bayesian analysis is methodologically robust, as per the ROBUST-statement, and will serve to complement the primary outcome evaluations with probabilistic interpretations (DOI: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2023.10.040).

The Degree of Innovation

The PRECISe trial distinguishes itself by employing a pragmatic, multicenter randomized controlled trial (RCT) design, euthyroid tracking the progress of critically ill patients who are on mechanical ventilation. The Bayesian framework endorsed by the study is particularly innovative; it aims to offer an insightful interpretation of functional recovery through clinically relevant effect sizes and the integration of prior evidence. Researchers from institutions including Maastricht University, Charité Berlin, University of Malaya, and Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel are among the international cross-disciplinary team spearheading this trial.

Measuring Recovery Outcomes

The main recovery marker in the PRECISe trial is health-related quality of life, gauged by the EQ-5D-5L health utility score. This score will be analyzed over time, allowing for a dynamic understanding of recovery trajectories. Other secondary measures include physical tests such as the 6-min walking test and handgrip strength, which together provide a granular view of a patient’s post-ICU physical capabilities.

Analytical Approach and Expected Outcomes

Under the Bayesian framework, the PRECISe team will primarily utilize weakly informative priors. These priors are essential in Bayesian analysis, as they guide the statistical inference based on previous research and existing literature. The results will be differentiated between absolute risk differences, mean differences, and odds ratios for critical outcomes, including 60-day mortality, duration of mechanical ventilation, and EQ-5D-5L scores at several time points. Additionally, posterior probabilities will estimate the likelihood of significant benefit or harm, giving clinicians a probabilistic perspective on treatment efficacy.

Importantly, the protocol was drafted and submitted for publication before locking the trial’s database to ensure transparency and accountability in the research process. This step reflects the ethical standards that the trial seeks to uphold.

The Insight on Subgroups

Patients with varying health challenges like acute kidney injury, severe multi-organ failure, and sepsis make up the trial’s subgroups. These particular populations are often at increased risk during recovery and could potentially benefit most from targeted nutritional interventions. The investigation into these subgroups is a salient feature of the PRECISe trial and could lead to tailored treatment plans in critical care.

Implications for Clinical Practice

The impact of this research will likely resonate across ICU protocols worldwide, where nutrition plays a pivotal role in patient recovery but is often guided by conventional wisdom rather than solid evidence. By providing solid scientific data on the effect of high protein provision, the PRECISe trial might recalibrate nutritional guidelines for the critically ill, potentially improving outcomes and saving lives.

Declaration of Competing Interest

It is noted that some of the investigators, including Dr. van de Poll, have received funding and speaker fees from entities like Nutricia and Fresenius-Kabi. These disclosures are vital for maintaining the transparency and integrity of the research process.

The Extraordinary Potential

The implications of the PRECISe trial are both profound and far-reaching. An optimal recovery trajectory for critically ill patients could reduce hospital stay durations, cut healthcare costs, and most importantly, improve the quality of life for survivors of critical illness. With its robust design and innovative analysis plan, the PRECISe trial is well-positioned to contribute valuable insights into ICU nutrition practices and patient care.


For further detail and context on the study and its potential impact, the following references are highly recommended:
1. Heuts, S., et al. (2024). The impact of high versus standard enteral protein provision on functional recovery following intensive care admission: Protocol for a pre-planned secondary Bayesian analysis of the PRECISe trial. Clin Nutr ESPEN, 59, 162-170. DOI: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2023.10.040.
2. Needham, D. M., et al. (2016). Nutrition Protocols for Critically Ill Patients: Why Is the Evidence Not Being Used? Clin Nutr, 35(6), 1187-1192.
3. Singer, P., et al. (2019). ESPEN guideline on clinical nutrition in the intensive care unit. Clin Nutr, 38(1), 48-79.
4. Patel, J. J., et al. (2020). Protein Delivery in the Intensive Care Unit: Optimal or Suboptimal? Nutr Clin Pract, 35(2), 212-220.
5. Wischmeyer, P. E. (2017). Tailoring Nutrition Therapy to Illness and Recovery. Crit Care, 21(Suppl 3), 316.


1. Intensive care nutrition
2. Protein provision ICU
3. PRECISe trial
4. Enteral protein critical care
5. Bayesian analysis healthcare

By addressing the intricacies of nutritional support in the ICU and leveraging advanced statistical methodologies, the PRECISe trial stands as a testament to collaborative, patient-centered research in critical care. The preliminary findings highlight the importance of re-evaluating long-standing nutritional strategies and provide a framework for more personalized, evidence-based care in the ICU setting.