Patients who plan for conservative care rather than dialysis: a national observational study in Australia

Am J Kidney Dis. 2012 Mar;59(3):419-27. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2011.08.024. Epub 2011 Oct 20.


Background: It is unclear how many incident patients with stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD) referred to nephrologists are presented with information about conservative care as a treatment option and how many plan not to dialyze.

Study design: National observational survey study with random-effects logistic regression.

Setting & participants: Incident adult and pediatric pre-emptive transplant, dialysis, and conservative-care patients from public and private renal units in Australia, July to September 2009.

Predictors: Age, sex, health insurance status, language, time known to nephrologist, timing of information, presence of caregiver, unit conservative care pathway, and size of unit.

Outcomes & measurements: The 2 main outcome measures were information provision to incident patients about conservative care and initial treatment regardless of planned conservative care.

Results: 66 of 73 renal units (90%) participated. 10 (15%) had a formal conservative-care pathway. Of 721 incident patients with stage 5 CKD, 470 (65%) were presented with conservative care as a treatment option and 102 (14%) planned not to dialyze; median age was 80 years. Multivariate analysis for information provision showed that patients older than 65 years (OR, 3.40; 95% CI, 1.97-5.87) and those known to a nephrologist for more than 3 months (OR, 6.50; 95% CI, 3.18-13.30) were more likely to receive information about conservative care. Patients with conservative care as planned initial treatment were more likely to be older than 65 years (OR, 4.71; 95% CI, 1.77-12.49) and women (OR, 2.23; 95% CI, 1.23-4.02) than those who started dialysis therapy. Those with private health insurance were less likely to forgo dialysis therapy (OR, 0.40; 95% CI, 0.17-0.98).

Limitations: Cross-sectional design prohibited longer term outcome measurement. Excluded patients with stage 5 CKD managed in the community.

Conclusions: 1 in 7 patients with stage 5 CKD referred to nephrologists plans not to dialyze. Comprehensive service provision with integrated palliative care needs to be improved to meet the demands of the aging population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Australia
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Participation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Renal Dialysis*