Survival trends in ESRD patients compared with the general population in the United States

Am J Kidney Dis. 2014 Mar;63(3):491-9. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2013.09.011. Epub 2013 Nov 6.


Background: Health care resources expended on patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) have increased extensively, with uncertain changes in outcomes. In this study, we examined survival trends in the United States in patients with ESRD receiving renal replacement therapy with long-term dialysis or transplantation relative to the general population.

Study design: Secondary analysis of records from the US Renal Data System.

Setting & participants: American adults receiving renal replacement therapy in 1977, 1987, 1997, and 2007.

Predictor: Year.

Outcome: 1-year survival.

Measurements: Abridged period life tables were created for each cross-sectional patient group and were compared with general US population life tables to measure relative survival, calculated as differences in average survival between the general US and the ESRD populations.

Results: From 1977 to 2007, ESRD patient groups became significantly older (mean age increased from 47 to 58 years) and sicker (ESRD due to diabetes increased from 9.1% to 38.2%; patients with a high death risk increased from 36.8% to 50.7%). Unadjusted age-specific survival improved (for 50-year-olds, average life expectancy increased 8% from 7.3 years in 1977 to 7.9 years in 2007), but age-specific survival increased more extensively in the general US population (from 27.5 years in 1977 to 30.9 years in 2007; 12% improvement). Accounting for this, age-specific relative survival in patients with ESRD decreased (for 50-year-olds, 20.2 life-years lost in 1977 vs 23.0 life-years lost in 2007).

Limitations: Our analysis controlled for neither patient comorbid conditions nor initial glomerular filtration rate at the start of renal replacement therapy.

Conclusions: Over the past 4 decades, age-specific survival in patients with ESRD has improved, but has not kept pace with that of the general US population. To be complete, future survival studies in patients with ESRD should focus on both temporal changes in survival within this group and changes relative to the general population.

Keywords: End-stage renal disease (ESRD); kidney disease outcome; life expectancy; mortality rate; renal failure; renal replacement therapy (RRT); survival; survival trend.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cause of Death / trends
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / mortality*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Registries*
  • Renal Replacement Therapy / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • United States / epidemiology