Primary care physicians' perceived barriers, facilitators and strategies to enhance conservative care for older adults with chronic kidney disease: a qualitative descriptive study

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2016 Nov;31(11):1864-1870. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfv408. Epub 2015 Dec 17.


Background: Although primary care physicians (PCPs) are often responsible for the routine care of older adults with chronic kidney disease (CKD), there is a paucity of evidence regarding their perspectives and practice of conservative (non-dialysis) care. We undertook a qualitative study to describe barriers, facilitators and strategies to enhance conservative, non-dialysis, CKD care by PCPs in the community.

Methods: Semi-structured telephone and face-to-face interviews were conducted with PCPs from Alberta, Canada. Participants were identified using a snowball sampling strategy and purposively sampled based on sex, age and rural/urban location of clinical practice. Eligible participants had managed at least one patient ≥75 years with Stage 5 CKD (estimated glomerular filtration rate <15 mL/min/1.73 m2, not on dialysis) in the prior year. Participant recruitment ceased when data saturation was reached. Transcripts were analyzed thematically using conventional content analysis.

Results: In total, 27 PCPs were interviewed. The majority were male (15/27), were aged 40-60 years (15/27) and had practiced in primary care for >20 years (14/27). Perceived barriers to conservative CKD care included: managing expectations of kidney failure for patients and their families; dealing with the complexity of medical management of patients requiring conservative care; and challenges associated with managing patients jointly with specialists. Factors that facilitated conservative CKD care included: establishing patient/family expectations early; preserving continuity of care; and utilizing a multidisciplinary team approach. Suggested strategies for improving conservative care included having: direct telephone access to clinicians familiar with conservative care; treatment decision aids for patients and their families; and a conservative care clinical pathway to guide management.

Conclusions: PCPs identified important barriers and facilitators to conservative care for their older patients with Stage 5 CKD. Further investigation of potential strategies that address barriers and enable facilitators is required to improve the quality of conservative care for older adults in the community.

Keywords: chronic kidney disease; conservative care; non-dialysis care; older adults; primary care physicians.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alberta
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Conservative Treatment / standards*
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians, Primary Care / standards*
  • Primary Health Care / standards*
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / therapy