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1.  Effectiveness of Educational and Social Worker Interventions to Activate Patients’ Discussion and Pursuit of Preemptive Living Donor Kidney Transplantation: A Randomized Controlled Trial 
Background
Many patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have difficulties becoming actively engaged in the pursuit of pre-emptive living donor kidney transplantation.
Study Design
The Talking About Live Kidney Donation (TALK) study was a randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of educational and social worker interventions designed to encourage early discussions and active pursuit of pre-emptive LKT among patients with progressive CKD.
Setting & Participants
We recruited participants with progressive CKD from academically affiliated nephrology practices in Baltimore, Maryland.
Intervention
Participants randomly received 1) “Usual Care” (routine care with their nephrologists), 2) “TALK Education” intervention (video and booklet), or the 3) “TALK Social Worker” intervention (video and booklet plus patient and family social worker visits).
Outcomes
We followed participants for 6 months to assess their self-reported achievement of behaviors reflecting their discussions about LKT and/or pursuit of LKT (discussions with family; discussions with physicians; initiating recipient evaluation; completing recipient evaluation; identifying a potential living donor).
Measurements
We assessed outcomes via questionnaire at 1, 3, and 6-month follow up.
Results
Participants receiving Usual Care with their nephrologists (n=44), TALK Education (n=43), and the TALK Social Worker (n=43) were similar at baseline. TALK Study interventions improved participants’ LKT discussion and pursuit behaviors, with the Social Worker leading to greater patient activation (participants’ predicted probability (95% confidence interval) of achieving LKT discussions, evaluations, or donor identification over 6 months in Usual Care, TALK Education, and TALK Social Worker groups: 30% (20%–46%), 42% (33% –54%), and 58% (41% –83%), respectively (p=0.03).
Limitations
Our population was well educated and mostly insured, potentially limiting generalizability of our findings.
Conclusions
TALK interventions improved discussion and active pursuit of LKT among patients with progressive CKD and may improve their utilization of pre-emptive LKT.
doi:10.1053/j.ajkd.2012.08.039
PMCID: PMC3710736  PMID: 23089512
2.  African American and Non-African American Patients’ and Families’ Decision Making About Renal Replacement Therapies 
Qualitative health research  2012;22(7):997-1006.
We conducted focus group meetings of African American and non-African American patients with end-stage renal disease (six groups) and their family members (six groups), stratified by race/ethnicity and treatment. We elicited differences in participants’ experiences with shared decision making about initiating renal replacement therapy (RRT; that is, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, or a kidney transplant). Patients were often very sick when initiating RRT, and had little, if any, time to make a decision about what type of RRT to initiate. They also lacked sufficient information about alternative treatment options prior to initiation. Family members played supportive roles and shared in decision making when possible. Reports were similar for African American and non-African American participants. Our findings suggest that a greater emphasis on the improved engagement of patients and their families in shared decision making about RRT initiation is needed for both ethnic/racial minorities and nonminorities.
doi:10.1177/1049732312443427
PMCID: PMC3927418  PMID: 22645225
African Americans; communication; medical; decision making; illness and disease; chronic; illness and disease; experiences; minorities; nephrology
3.  Trends in anemia management in US hemodialysis patients 2004–2010 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:264.
Background
There have been major changes in the management of anemia in US hemodialysis patients in recent years. We sought to determine the influence of clinical trial results, safety regulations, and changes in reimbursement policy on practice.
Methods
We examined indicators of anemia management among incident and prevalent hemodialysis patients from a medium-sized dialysis provider over three time periods: (1) 2004 to 2006 (2) 2007 to 2009, and (3) 2010. Trends across the three time periods were compared using generalized estimating equations.
Results
Prior to 2007, the median proportion of patients with monthly hemoglobin >12 g/dL for patients on dialysis 0 to 3, 4 to 6 and 7 to 18 months, respectively, was 42%, 55% and 46% declined to 41%, 54%, and 40% after 2007, and declined more sharply in 2010 to 34%, 41%, and 30%. Median weekly Epoeitin alpha doses over the same periods were 18,000, 12,400, and 9,100 units before 2007; remained relatively unchanged from 2007 to 2009; and decreased sharply in the patients 3–6 and 6–18 months on dialysis to 10,200 and 7,800 units, respectively in 2010. Iron doses, serum ferritin, and transferrin saturation levels increased over time with more pronounced increases in 2010.
Conclusion
Modest changes in anemia management occurred between 2007 and 2009, followed by more dramatic changes in 2010. Studies are needed to examine the effects of declining erythropoietin use and hemoglobin levels and increasing intravenous iron use on quality of life, transplantation rates, infection rates and survival.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-14-264
PMCID: PMC3866613  PMID: 24289058
Anemia; Erythropoietin stimulating agents; Hemodialysis
4.  Patterns in blood pressure medication use in US incident dialysis patients over the first 6 months 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:249.
Background
Several observational studies have evaluated the effect of a single exposure window with blood pressure (BP) medications on outcomes in incident dialysis patients, but whether BP medication prescription patterns remain stable or a single exposure window design is adequate to evaluate effect on outcomes is unclear.
Methods
We described patterns of BP medication prescription over 6 months after dialysis initiation in hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis patients, stratified by cardiovascular comorbidity, diabetes, and other patient characteristics. The cohort included 13,072 adult patients (12,159 hemodialysis, 913 peritoneal dialysis) who initiated dialysis in Dialysis Clinic, Inc., facilities January 1, 2003-June 30, 2008, and remained on the original modality for at least 6 months. We evaluated monthly patterns in BP medication prescription over 6 months and at 12 and 24 months after initiation.
Results
Prescription patterns varied by dialysis modality over the first 6 months; substantial proportions of patients with prescriptions for beta-blockers, renin angiotensin system agents, and dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers in month 6 no longer had prescriptions for these medications by month 24. Prescription of specific medication classes varied by comorbidity, race/ethnicity, and age, but little by sex. The mean number of medications was 2.5 at month 6 in hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis cohorts.
Conclusions
This study evaluates BP medication patterns in both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis patients over the first 6 months of dialysis. Our findings highlight the challenges of assessing comparative effectiveness of a single BP medication class in dialysis patients. Longitudinal designs should be used to account for changes in BP medication management over time, and designs that incorporate common combinations should be considered.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-14-249
PMCID: PMC3840675  PMID: 24219348
Blood pressure medication; Dialysis; Medication use patterns
5.  Facilitators and barriers to hypertension self-management in urban African Americans: perspectives of patients and family members 
Introduction
We aimed to inform the design of behavioral interventions by identifying patients’ and their family members’ perceived facilitators and barriers to hypertension self-management.
Materials and methods
We conducted focus groups of African American patients with hypertension and their family members to elicit their views about factors influencing patients’ hypertension self-management. We recruited African American patients with hypertension (n = 18) and their family members (n = 12) from an urban, community-based clinical practice in Baltimore, Maryland. We conducted four separate 90-minute focus groups among patients with controlled (one group) and uncontrolled (one group) hypertension, as well as their family members (two groups). Trained moderators used open-ended questions to assess participants’ perceptions regarding patient, family, clinic, and community-level factors influencing patients’ effective hypertension self-management.
Results
Patient participants identified several facilitators (including family members’ support and positive relationships with doctors) and barriers (including competing health priorities, lack of knowledge about hypertension, and poor access to community resources) that influence their hypertension self-management. Family members also identified several facilitators (including their participation in patients’ doctor’s visits and discussions with patients’ doctors outside of visits) and barriers (including their own limited health knowledge and patients’ lack of motivation to sustain hypertension self-management behaviors) that affect their efforts to support patients’ hypertension self-management.
Conclusion
African American patients with hypertension and their family members reported numerous patient, family, clinic, and community-level facilitators and barriers to patients’ hypertension self-management. Patients’ and their family members’ views may help guide efforts to tailor behavioral interventions designed to improve hypertension self-management behaviors and hypertension control in minority populations.
doi:10.2147/PPA.S46517
PMCID: PMC3743518  PMID: 23966772
hypertension; patient perspective; qualitative research; health disparities
6.  Selecting renal replacement therapies: what do African American and non-African American patients and their families think others should know? A mixed methods study 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:9.
Background
Little is known regarding the types of information African American and non-African American patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and their families need to inform renal replacement therapy (RRT) decisions.
Methods
In 20 structured group interviews, we elicited views of African American and non-African American patients with CKD and their families about factors that should be addressed in educational materials informing patients’ RRT selection decisions. We asked participants to select factors from a list and obtained their open-ended feedback.
Results
Ten groups of patients (5 African American, 5 non-African American; total 68 individuals) and ten groups of family members (5 African American, 5 non-African American; total 62 individuals) participated. Patients and families had a range (none to extensive) of experiences with various RRTs. Patients identified morbidity or mortality, autonomy, treatment delivery, and symptoms as important factors to address. Family members identified similar factors but also cited the effects of RRT decisions on patients’ psychological well-being and finances. Views of African American and non-African American participants were largely similar.
Conclusions
Educational resources addressing the influence of RRT selection on patients’ morbidity and mortality, autonomy, treatment delivery, and symptoms could help patients and their families select RRT options closely aligned with their values. Including information about the influence of RRT selection on patients’ personal relationships and finances could enhance resources’ cultural relevance for African Americans.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-14-9
PMCID: PMC3565884  PMID: 23317336
Decision-making; Renal replacement therapy; Family members; African American
7.  Comparative effectiveness studies to improve clinical outcomes in end stage renal disease: the DEcIDE patient outcomes in end stage renal disease study 
BMC Nephrology  2012;13:167.
Background
Evidence is lacking to inform providers’ and patients’ decisions about many common treatment strategies for patients with end stage renal disease (ESRD).
Methods/design
The DEcIDE Patient Outcomes in ESRD Study is funded by the United States (US) Agency for Health Care Research and Quality to study the comparative effectiveness of: 1) antihypertensive therapies, 2) early versus later initiation of dialysis, and 3) intravenous iron therapies on clinical outcomes in patients with ESRD. Ongoing studies utilize four existing, nationally representative cohorts of patients with ESRD, including (1) the Choices for Healthy Outcomes in Caring for ESRD study (1041 incident dialysis patients recruited from October 1995 to June 1999 with complete outcome ascertainment through 2009), (2) the Dialysis Clinic Inc (45,124 incident dialysis patients initiating and receiving their care from 2003–2010 with complete outcome ascertainment through 2010), (3) the United States Renal Data System (333,308 incident dialysis patients from 2006–2009 with complete outcome ascertainment through 2010), and (4) the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Chronic Kidney Disease Registry (53,399 patients with chronic kidney disease with outcome ascertainment from 2005 through 2009). We ascertain patient reported outcomes (i.e., health-related quality of life), morbidity, and mortality using clinical and administrative data, and data obtained from national death indices. We use advanced statistical methods (e.g., propensity scoring and marginal structural modeling) to account for potential biases of our study designs. All data are de-identified for analyses. The conduct of studies and dissemination of findings are guided by input from Stakeholders in the ESRD community.
Discussion
The DEcIDE Patient Outcomes in ESRD Study will provide needed evidence regarding the effectiveness of common treatments employed for dialysis patients. Carefully planned dissemination strategies to the ESRD community will enhance studies’ impact on clinical care and patients’ outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-13-167
PMCID: PMC3554422  PMID: 23217181
8.  Development of a decision aid to inform patients’ and families’ renal replacement therapy selection decisions 
Background
Few educational resources have been developed to inform patients’ renal replacement therapy (RRT) selection decisions. Patients progressing toward end stage renal disease (ESRD) must decide among multiple treatment options with varying characteristics. Complex information about treatments must be adequately conveyed to patients with different educational backgrounds and informational needs. Decisions about treatment options also require family input, as families often participate in patients’ treatment and support patients’ decisions. We describe the development, design, and preliminary evaluation of an informational, evidence-based, and patient-and family-centered decision aid for patients with ESRD and varying levels of health literacy, health numeracy, and cognitive function.
Methods
We designed a decision aid comprising a complementary video and informational handbook. We based our development process on data previously obtained from qualitative focus groups and systematic literature reviews. We simultaneously developed the video and handbook in “stages.” For the video, stages included (1) directed interviews with culturally appropriate patients and families and preliminary script development, (2) video production, and (3) screening the video with patients and their families. For the handbook, stages comprised (1) preliminary content design, (2) a mixed-methods pilot study among diverse patients to assess comprehension of handbook material, and (3) screening the handbook with patients and their families.
Results
The video and handbook both addressed potential benefits and trade-offs of treatment selections. The 50-minute video consisted of demographically diverse patients and their families describing their positive and negative experiences with selecting a treatment option. The video also incorporated health professionals’ testimonials regarding various considerations that might influence patients’ and families’ treatment selections. The handbook was comprised of written words, pictures of patients and health care providers, and diagrams describing the findings and quality of scientific studies comparing treatments. The handbook text was written at a 4th to 6th grade reading level. Pilot study results demonstrated that a majority of patients could understand information presented in the handbook. Patient and families screening the nearly completed video and handbook reviewed the materials favorably.
Conclusions
This rigorously designed decision aid may help patients and families make informed decisions about their treatment options for RRT that are well aligned with their values.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-12-140
PMCID: PMC3560257  PMID: 23198793
Kidney disease; Decision aid; Literacy; Numeracy; Cognitive function
9.  The providing resources to enhance African American patients’ readiness to make decisions about kidney disease (PREPARED) study: protocol of a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Nephrology  2012;13:135.
Background
Living related kidney transplantation (LRT) is underutilized, particularly among African Americans. The effectiveness of informational and financial interventions to enhance informed decision-making among African Americans with end stage renal disease (ESRD) and improve rates of LRT is unknown.
Methods/design
We report the protocol of the Providing Resources to Enhance African American Patients’ Readiness to Make Decisions about Kidney Disease (PREPARED) Study, a two-phase study utilizing qualitative and quantitative research methods to design and test the effectiveness of informational (focused on shared decision-making) and financial interventions to overcome barriers to pursuit of LRT among African American patients and their families. Study Phase I involved the evidence-based development of informational materials as well as a financial intervention to enhance African American patients’ and families’ proficiency in shared decision-making regarding LRT. In Study Phase 2, we are currently conducting a randomized controlled trial in which patients with new-onset ESRD receive 1) usual dialysis care by their nephrologists, 2) the informational intervention (educational video and handbook), or 3) the informational intervention in addition to the option of participating in a live kidney donor financial assistance program. The primary outcome of the randomized controlled trial will include patients’ self-reported rates of consideration of LRT (including family discussions of LRT, patient-physician discussions of LRT, and identification of a LRT donor).
Discussion
Results from the PREPARED study will provide needed evidence on ways to enhance the decision to pursue LRT among African American patients with ESRD.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01439516
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-13-135
PMCID: PMC3489555  PMID: 23057616
Shared decision-making; Live kidney transplantation; Live kidney donation; Chronic kidney disease; End stage renal disease

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