Cognitive function and advanced kidney disease: longitudinal trends and impact on decision-making

Clin Kidney J. 2017 Feb;10(1):89-94. doi: 10.1093/ckj/sfw128. Epub 2017 Jan 7.


Background: Cognitive impairment commonly affects renal patients. But little is known about the influence of dialysis modality on cognitive trends or the influence of cognitive impairment on decision-making in renal patients. This study evaluated cognitive trends amongst chronic kidney disease (CKD), haemodialysis (HD) and peritoneal dialysis (PD) patients. The relationship between cognitive impairment and decision-making capacity (DMC) was also assessed. Methods: Patients were recruited from three outpatient clinics. Cognitive function was assessed 4-monthly for up to 2 years, using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) tool. Cognitive trends were assessed using mixed model analysis. DMC was assessed using the Macarthur Competency Assessment tool (MacCAT-T). MacCAT-T scores were compared between patients with cognitive impairment (MoCA <26) and those without. Results: In total, 102 (41 HD, 25 PD and 36 CKD) patients were recruited into the prospective study. After multivariate analysis, the total MoCA scores declined faster in dialysis compared with CKD patients [coefficient = -0.03, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) = -0.056 to - 0.004; P = 0.025]. The MoCA executive scores declined faster in the HD compared with PD patients (coefficient = -0.12, 95% CI = -0.233 to - 0.007; P = 0.037). DMC was assessed in 10 patients. Those with cognitive impairment had lower MacCAT-T compared with those without [median (interquartile range) 19 (17.9-19.6) versus 17.4 (16.3-18.4); P = 0.049]. Conclusions: Cognition declines faster in dialysis patients compared with CKD patients and in HD patients compared with PD patients. Cognitive impairment affects DMC in patients with advanced kidney disease.

Keywords: chronic kidney disease; cognitive impairment; decision-making capacity; dialysis; executive function.