Supportive Care: Economic Considerations in Advanced Kidney Disease

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2016 Oct 7;11(10):1915-1920. doi: 10.2215/CJN.12651115. Epub 2016 Aug 10.


Kidney supportive care describes multiple interventions for patients with advanced CKD that focus on improving the quality of life and addressing what matters most to patients. This includes shared decision making and aligning treatment plans with patient goals through advance care planning and providing relief from pain and other distressing symptoms. Kidney supportive care is an essential component of quality care throughout the illness trajectory. However, in the context of limited health care resources, evidence of its cost-effectiveness is required to support decisions regarding appropriate resource allocation. We review the literature and outline the evidence gaps and particular issues associated with measuring the costs, benefits, and cost-effectiveness of kidney supportive care. We find evidence that the dominant evaluative framework of a cost per quality-adjusted life year may not be suitable for evaluations in this context and that relevant outcomes may include broader measures of patient wellbeing, having care aligned with treatment preferences, and family satisfaction with the end of life care experience. To improve the evidence base for the cost-effectiveness of kidney supportive care, large prospective cohort studies are recommended to collect data on both resource use and health outcomes and should include patients who receive conservative kidney management without dialysis. Linkage to administrative datasets, such as Medicare, Hospital Episode Statistics, and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for prescribed medicines, can provide a detailed estimate of publicly funded resource use and reduce the burden of data collection for patients and families. Longitudinal collection of quality of life and functional status should be added to existing cohort or kidney registry studies. Interventions that improve health outcomes for people with advanced CKD, such as kidney supportive care, not only have the potential to improve quality of life, but also may reduce the high costs associated with unwanted hospitalization and intensive medical treatments.

Keywords: Chronic; Cost-Benefit Analysis; Humans; Personal Satisfaction; Prospective Studies; Quality-Adjusted Life Years; Renal Insufficiency; conservative care; health economics; palliative care; quality of life; renal dialysis; supportive care.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / economics*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Patient Preference
  • Quality of Life
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Terminal Care