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1.  Specialist and primary care physicians’ views on barriers to adequate preparation of patients for renal replacement therapy: a qualitative study 
BMC Nephrology  2015;16:37.
Early preparation for renal replacement therapy (RRT) is recommended for patients with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD), yet many patients initiate RRT urgently and/or are inadequately prepared.
We conducted audio-recorded, qualitative, directed telephone interviews of nephrology health care providers (n = 10, nephrologists, physician assistants, and nurses) and primary care physicians (PCPs, n = 4) to identify modifiable challenges to optimal RRT preparation to inform future interventions. We recruited providers from public safety-net hospital-based and community-based nephrology and primary care practices. We asked providers open-ended questions to assess their perceived challenges and their views on the role of PCPs and nephrologist-PCP collaboration in patients’ RRT preparation. Two independent and trained abstractors coded transcribed audio-recorded interviews and identified major themes.
Nephrology providers identified several factors contributing to patients’ suboptimal RRT preparation, including health system resources (e.g., limited time for preparation, referral process delays, and poorly integrated nephrology and primary care), provider skills (e.g., their difficulty explaining CKD to patients), and patient attitudes and cultural differences (e.g., their poor understanding and acceptance of their CKD and its treatment options, their low perceived urgency for RRT preparation; their negative perceptions about RRT, lack of trust, or language differences). PCPs desired more involvement in preparation to ensure RRT transitions could be as “smooth as possible”, including providing patients with emotional support, helping patients weigh RRT options, and affirming nephrologist recommendations. Both nephrology providers and PCPs desired improved collaboration, including better information exchange and delineation of roles during the RRT preparation process.
Nephrology and primary care providers identified health system resources, provider skills, and patient attitudes and cultural differences as challenges to patients’ optimal RRT preparation. Interventions to improve these factors may improve patients’ preparation and initiation of optimal RRTs.
PMCID: PMC4387659  PMID: 25885460
Renal replacement therapy; Dialysis; Transplantation; Preparation; Primary care; Collaborative care
2.  Low income, community poverty and risk of end stage renal disease 
BMC Nephrology  2014;15:192.
The risk of end stage renal disease (ESRD) is increased among individuals with low income and in low income communities. However, few studies have examined the relation of both individual and community socioeconomic status (SES) with incident ESRD.
Among 23,314 U.S. adults in the population-based Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke study, we assessed participant differences across geospatially-linked categories of county poverty [outlier poverty, extremely high poverty, very high poverty, high poverty, neither (reference), high affluence and outlier affluence]. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine associations of annual household income and geospatially-linked county poverty measures with incident ESRD, while accounting for death as a competing event using the Fine and Gray method.
There were 158 ESRD cases during follow-up. Incident ESRD rates were 178.8 per 100,000 person-years (105 py) in high poverty outlier counties and were 76.3 /105 py in affluent outlier counties, p trend = 0.06. In unadjusted competing risk models, persons residing in high poverty outlier counties had higher incidence of ESRD (which was not statistically significant) when compared to those persons residing in counties with neither high poverty nor affluence [hazard ratio (HR) 1.54, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.75-3.20]. This association was markedly attenuated following adjustment for socio-demographic factors (age, sex, race, education, and income); HR 0.96, 95% CI 0.46-2.00. However, in the same adjusted model, income was independently associated with risk of ESRD [HR 3.75, 95% CI 1.62-8.64, comparing the < $20,000 income group to the > $75,000 group]. There were no statistically significant associations of county measures of poverty with incident ESRD, and no evidence of effect modification.
In contrast to annual family income, geospatially-linked measures of county poverty have little relation with risk of ESRD. Efforts to mitigate socioeconomic disparities in kidney disease may be best appropriated at the individual level.
PMCID: PMC4269852  PMID: 25471628
ESRD; Chronic kidney disease; Socioeconomic status; Disparity; Geospatial
3.  Dietary acid load and chronic kidney disease among adults in the United States 
BMC Nephrology  2014;15:137.
Diet can markedly affect acid-base status and it significantly influences chronic kidney disease (CKD) and its progression. The relationship of dietary acid load (DAL) and CKD has not been assessed on a population level. We examined the association of estimated net acid excretion (NAEes) with CKD; and socio-demographic and clinical correlates of NAEes.
Among 12,293 U.S. adult participants aged >20 years in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999–2004, we assessed dietary acid by estimating NAEes from nutrient intake and body surface area; kidney damage by albuminuria; and kidney dysfunction by eGFR < 60 ml/min/1.73m2 using the MDRD equation. We tested the association of NAEes with participant characteristics using median regression; while for albuminuria, eGFR, and stages of CKD we used logistic regression.
Median regression results (β per quintile) indicated that adults aged 40–60 years (β [95% CI] = 3.1 [0.3–5.8]), poverty (β [95% CI] = 7.1 [4.01–10.22]), black race (β [95% CI] = 13.8 [10.8–16.8]), and male sex (β [95% CI] = 3.0 [0.7- 5.2]) were significantly associated with an increasing level of NAEes. Higher levels of NAEes compared with lower levels were associated with greater odds of albuminuria (OR [95% CI] = 1.57 [1.20–2.05]). We observed a trend toward greater NAEes being associated with higher risk of low eGFR, which persisted after adjustment for confounders.
Higher NAEes is associated with albuminuria and low eGFR, and socio-demographic risk factors for CKD are associated with higher levels of NAEes. DAL may be an important target for future interventions in populations at high risk for CKD.
PMCID: PMC4151375  PMID: 25151260
Acidosis; Albuminuria; Chronic kidney disease; NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey); Nutrition
4.  Retained organic solutes, patient characteristics and all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in hemodialysis: results from the retained organic solutes and clinical outcomes (ROSCO) investigators 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:134.
Multiple solutes are retained in uremia, but it is currently unclear which solutes are toxic. Small studies suggest that protein-bound solutes, such as p-cresol sulfate and indoxyl sulfate and intracellular solutes, such as methylamine (MMA) and dimethylamine (DMA), may be toxic. Our objective was to test whether elevated levels of these solutes were associated with mortality.
We conducted a prospective cohort study in 521 U.S. incident hemodialysis patients to evaluate associations between these solutes and all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. P-cresol sulfate, indoxyl sulfate, MMA and DMA levels were measured from frozen plasma samples obtained 2 to 6 months after initiation of dialysis. Mortality data was available through 2004 using the National Death Index.
Elevated (greater than the population median) p-cresol sulfate, MMA or DMA levels were not associated with all-cause or cardiovascular mortality. Elevated indoxyl sulfate levels were associated with all-cause mortality but not cardiovascular mortality (hazard ratio 1.30 (95% confidence interval 1.01, 1.69) p-value 0.043).
In this cohort of 521 incident hemodialysis patients, only elevated indoxyl sulfate levels were associated with all-cause mortality. Further research is needed to identify causes of the toxicity of uremia to provide better care for patients with kidney disease.
PMCID: PMC3698023  PMID: 23806101
All-cause Mortality; Cardiovascular Mortality; Dialysis Outcomes; Indoxyl Sulfate; P-cresol Sulfate; Uremic Solutes
5.  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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3565884  PMID: 23317336
Decision-making; Renal replacement therapy; Family members; African American
6.  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.
Evidence is lacking to inform providers’ and patients’ decisions about many common treatment strategies for patients with end stage renal disease (ESRD).
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3554422  PMID: 23217181
7.  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.
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.
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).
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 NCT01439516
PMCID: PMC3489555  PMID: 23057616
Shared decision-making; Live kidney transplantation; Live kidney donation; Chronic kidney disease; End stage renal disease
8.  Chronic kidney disease and use of dental services in a united states public healthcare system: a retrospective cohort study 
BMC Nephrology  2012;13:16.
As several studies have shown an association between periodontal disease and chronic kidney disease (CKD), regular dental care may be an important strategy for reducing the burden of CKD. Access to dental care may be limited in the US public health system.
In this retrospective cohort study of 6,498 adult patients with (n = 2,235) and without (n = 4,263) CKD and at least 12 months of follow-up within the San Francisco Department of Public Health Community Health Network clinical databases, we examined the likelihood of having a dental visit within the observation period (2005-2010) using Cox proportional hazards models. To determine whether dental visits reflected a uniform approach to preventive service use in this setting, we similarly examined the likelihood of having an eye visit among those with diabetes, for whom regular retinopathy screening is recommended. We defined CKD status by average estimated glomerular filtration rate based on two or more creatinine measurements ≥ 3 months apart (no CKD, ≥ 60 ml/min/1.73 m2; CKD, < 60 ml/min/1.73 m2).
Only 11.0% and 17.4% of patients with and without CKD, respectively, had at least one dental visit. Those with CKD had a 25% lower likelihood of having a dental visit [HR = 0.75, 95% CI (0.64-0.88)] than those without CKD after adjustment for confounders. Among the subgroup of patients with diabetes, 11.8% vs. 17.2% of those with and without CKD had a dental visit, while 58.8% vs. 57.8% had an eye visit.
Dental visits, but not eye visits, in a US public healthcare setting are extremely low, particularly among patients with CKD. Given the emerging association between oral health and CKD, addressing factors that impede dental access may be important for reducing the disparate burden of CKD in this population.
PMCID: PMC3368751  PMID: 22471751
9.  Protocol of a Randomized Controlled Trial of Culturally Sensitive Interventions to Improve African Americans' and Non-African Americans' Early, Shared, and Informed Consideration of Live Kidney Transplantation: The talking about Live Kidney Donation (TALK) study 
BMC Nephrology  2011;12:34.
Live kidney transplantation (LKT) is underutilized, particularly among ethnic/racial minorities. The effectiveness of culturally sensitive educational and behavioral interventions to encourage patients' early, shared (with family and health care providers) and informed consideration of LKT and ameliorate disparities in consideration of LKT is unknown.
We report the protocol of the Talking About Live Kidney Donation (TALK) Study, a two-phase study utilizing qualitative and quantitative research methods to design and test culturally sensitive interventions to improve patients' shared and informed consideration of LKT. Study Phase 1 involved the evidence-based development of culturally sensitive written and audiovisual educational materials as well as a social worker intervention to encourage patients' engagement in shared and informed consideration of LKT. In Study Phase 2, we are currently conducting a randomized controlled trial in which participants with progressing chronic kidney disease receive: 1) usual care by their nephrologists, 2) usual care plus the educational materials, or 3) usual care plus the educational materials and the social worker intervention. The primary outcome of the randomized controlled trial will include patients' self-reported rates of consideration of LKT (including family discussions of LKT, patient-physician discussions of LKT, and identification of an LKT donor). We will also assess differences in rates of consideration of LKT among African Americans and non-African Americans.
The TALK Study rigorously developed and is currently testing the effectiveness of culturally sensitive interventions to improve patients' and families' consideration of LKT. Results from TALK will provide needed evidence on ways to enhance consideration of this optimal treatment for patients with end stage renal disease.
Trial Registration number, NCT00932334
PMCID: PMC3150247  PMID: 21736762
10.  Effect of primary care physicians' use of estimated glomerular filtration rate on the timing of their subspecialty referral decisions 
BMC Nephrology  2011;12:1.
Primary care providers' suboptimal recognition of the severity of chronic kidney disease (CKD) may contribute to untimely referrals of patients with CKD to subspecialty care. It is unknown whether U.S. primary care physicians' use of estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) rather than serum creatinine to estimate CKD severity could improve the timeliness of their subspecialty referral decisions.
We conducted a cross-sectional study of 154 United States primary care physicians to assess the effect of use of eGFR (versus creatinine) on the timing of their subspecialty referrals. Primary care physicians completed a questionnaire featuring questions regarding a hypothetical White or African American patient with progressing CKD. We asked primary care physicians to identify the serum creatinine and eGFR levels at which they would recommend patients like the hypothetical patient be referred for subspecialty evaluation. We assessed significant improvement in the timing [from eGFR < 30 to ≥ 30 mL/min/1.73m2) of their recommended referrals based on their use of creatinine versus eGFR.
Primary care physicians recommended subspecialty referrals later (CKD more advanced) when using creatinine versus eGFR to assess kidney function [median eGFR 32 versus 55 mL/min/1.73m2, p < 0.001]. Forty percent of primary care physicians significantly improved the timing of their referrals when basing their recommendations on eGFR. Improved timing occurred more frequently among primary care physicians practicing in academic (versus non-academic) practices or presented with White (versus African American) hypothetical patients [adjusted percentage(95% CI): 70% (45-87) versus 37% (reference) and 57% (39-73) versus 25% (reference), respectively, both p ≤ 0.01).
Primary care physicians recommended subspecialty referrals earlier when using eGFR (versus creatinine) to assess kidney function. Enhanced use of eGFR by primary care physicians' could lead to more timely subspecialty care and improved clinical outcomes for patients with CKD.
PMCID: PMC3033812  PMID: 21235763
11.  Timing, causes, predictors and prognosis of switching from peritoneal dialysis to hemodialysis: a prospective study 
BMC Nephrology  2009;10:3.
The use of peritoneal dialysis (PD) has declined in the United States over the past decade and technique failure is also reportedly higher in PD compared to hemodialysis (HD), but there are little data in the United States addressing the factors and outcomes associated with switching modalities from PD to HD.
In a prospective cohort study of 262 PD patients enrolled from 28 peritoneal dialysis clinics in 13 U.S. states, we examined potential predictors of switching from PD to HD (including demographics, clinical factors, and laboratory values) and the association of switching with mortality. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to assess relative hazards (RH) of switching and of mortality in PD patients who switched to HD.
Among 262 PD patients, 24.8% switched to HD; with more than 70% switching within the first 2 years. Infectious peritonitis was the leading cause of switching. Patients of black race and with higher body mass index were significantly more likely to switch from PD to HD, RH (95% CI) of 5.01 (1.15–21.8) for black versus white and 1.09 (1.03–1.16) per 1 kg/m2 increase in BMI, respectively. There was no difference in survival between switchers and non-switchers, RH (95% CI) of 0.89 (0.41–1.93).
Switching from PD to HD occurs early and the rate is high, threatening long-term viability of PD programs. Several patient characteristics were associated with the risk of switching. However, there was no survival difference between switchers and non-switchers, reassuring providers and patients that PD technique failure is not necessarily associated with poor prognosis.
PMCID: PMC2649113  PMID: 19200383

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