Pre-ESRD care associates with improved outcomes among patients receiving dialysis. It is unknown what proportion of US micropolitan and rural dialysis patients receive pre-ESRD care and benefit from such care when compared to urban.
A retrospective cohort study was performed using data from the US Renal Data System. Patients ≥18 years old who initiated dialysis in 2006 and 2007 were classified as rural, micropolitan, or urban and prevalence of pre-ESRD care (early nephrology care >6 months, permanent vascular access, dietary education) was determined using the medical evidence report. The association of pre-ESRD care with dialysis mortality and transplantation was assessed using Cox regression with stratification for geographic residence.
Of 204,463 dialysis patients, 80% were urban, 10.2% were micropolitan, and 9.8% were rural. Overall attainment of pre-ESRD care was poor. After adjustment, there were no significant geographic differences in attainment of early nephrology care or permanent dialysis access. Receiving care reduced all-cause mortality and increased the likelihood of transplantation to a similar degree regardless of geographic residence. Both micropolitan and rural patients received less dietary education (RR 0.80 95% CI 0.76–0.84 and RR 0.85 95% CI 0.80–0.89, respectively).
Among patients who receive dialysis, the prevalence of early nephrology care and permanent dialysis access is poor and does not vary by geographic residence. Micropolitan and rural patients receive less dietary education despite an observed mortality benefit, suggesting that barriers may exist to quality dietary care in more remote locations.