Introduction: There has been a significant increase in the burden of renal disease among Aboriginal Australians over the past 15 years. Urine albumin:creatinine ratio (ACR) is a well-established marker of microalbuminuria and can be conveniently performed on the DCA 2000 point-of-care testing (POCT) analyser (Bayer Australia; Melbourne, VIC, Australia) with an on-site result available in 7 min. The application of the urine ACR POCT for renal disease risk assessment was pioneered by our group in the Umoona Kidney Project. This article describes the results of the management arm of the Umoona Kidney Project, which used point-of-care urine ACR testing for the first time within a management framework to monitor albuminuria in patients at highest risk of renal disease. The article also examines the analytical quality of POCT results and overall community acceptance of the Umoona Kidney Project.
Methods: Adults clinically assessed by Flinders Medical Centre renal specialists as being at greatest risk for renal disease were offered the ACE inhibitor (ACEI) perindopril on a voluntary basis. Selected renal markers, including POCT urine ACR (conducted on-site by Umoona's Aboriginal health worker team), plasma electrolytes, urea, creatinine, calculated glomerular filtration rate and blood pressure were measured six monthly. Regular quality control testing was undertaken to monitor the analytical performance of the POCT analyser. A culturally appropriate questionnaire was designed and implemented to assess community satisfaction with the project.
Results: In all, 231 patient management consultations were conducted over a two year period, with over 70% of patients having four or more (up to a maximum of eight) consultations; 35 patients (mean age 49.2 [+/-2.3] years, 54% males) participated voluntarily in the management arm. All were overtly hypertensive, hypertensive with other risk factors or had diabetes. The renal status of these patients was followed for a mean of 63 +/- 4.5 weeks. In total, 111 POCT urine ACR tests were performed for patient management (mean 3.2 tests per patient). There was no significant difference in POCT urine ACR in the study period with a median (and inter-quartile range) of 5.7 mg/mmol (1.2-15.2) pre-ACEI and 4.3 mg/mmol (1.3-16.7) post-ACEI treatment (p = 0.50, Wilcoxon signed ranks test). The calculated glomerular filtration rate altered from 110 to 118 mL/min (p = 0.019, paired t-test). There was no change in the group plasma potassium, urea and creatinine. Collectively these results indicate a stabilisation in renal function among the management group. Blood pressure (both lying and standing) fell significantly in the study period. The imprecision for urine ACR quality control POCT conducted during the management program was within nationally and internationally accepted precision goals for urine albumin, creatinine and ACR. Fifty community members completed the satisfaction questionnaire. Three-quarters of respondents felt there were no cultural barriers in providing a urine sample for urine ACR POCT.
Conclusions: The management arm of the Umoona Kidney Project was effective in stabilising the renal function and improving the blood pressure of community members identified to be at greatest risk of kidney disease. POCT urine ACR testing can be utilised, not only for community risk assessment, but also for patient management. The Umoona Kidney Project was well accepted by the health service and community members.