Background: Predialysis nephrology care for adults with late stage chronic kidney disease (CKD) is associated with improved outcomes. Less is known about the effects of nephrology care in earlier stages of CKD.
Objective: We aimed to evaluate the effect of nephrology care on management of CKD risk factors and complications, CKD progression, incident cardiovascular disease (CVD), and death.
Design: This was a prospective cohort study.
Participants: Participants included 3855 men and women aged 21 to 74 years enrolled in the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC) Study with a mean (SD) estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) at entry of 45 (17) ml/min/1.73 m(2), followed for a median of 6.6 years.
Main measures: The main predictor was self-reported prior contact with a nephrologist at study enrollment. Outcomes evaluated included CKD progression (≥ 50 % eGFR loss or end-stage renal disease), incident CVD, and death.
Results: Two-thirds (67 %) of the participants reported prior contact with a nephrologist at study enrollment. They were younger, more likely to be male, non-Hispanic white, and had lower eGFR and higher urine protein (p < 0.05). A subgroup with eGFR 30- < 60 ml/min/1.73 m(2) and prior contact with a nephrologist were more likely to receive pharmacologic treatment for CKD-related complications and to report angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker (ACEi/ARB) use. After propensity score matching (for reporting prior contact with a nephrologist vs. not) and adjusting for demographic and clinical variables, prior contact with a nephrologist was not significantly associated with CKD progression, incident CVD or death (p > 0.05).
Conclusions: One-third of CRIC participants had not seen a nephrologist before enrollment, and this prior contact was subject to age, sex, and ethnic-related disparities. While prior nephrology care was associated with more frequent treatment of CKD complications and use of ACEi/ARB medications, there was neither an association between this care and achievement of guideline-recommended intermediate measures, nor long-term adverse outcomes.
Keywords: chronic kidney disease; nephrology care; outcomes.