Non-medical barriers reported by nephrologists when providing renal replacement therapy or comprehensive conservative management to end-stage kidney disease patients: a systematic review

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2021 Apr 26;36(5):848-862. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfz271.


Background: Large international differences exist in access to renal replacement therapy (RRT) modalities and comprehensive conservative management (CCM) for patients with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), suggesting that some patients are not receiving the most appropriate treatment. Previous studies mainly focused on barriers reported by patients or medical barriers (e.g. comorbidities) reported by nephrologists. An overview of the non-medical barriers reported by nephrologists when providing the most appropriate form of RRT (other than conventional in-centre haemodialysis) or CCM is lacking.

Methods: We searched in EMBASE and PubMed for original articles with a cross-sectional design (surveys, interviews or focus groups) published between January 2010 and September 2018. We included studies in which nephrologists reported barriers when providing RRT or CCM to adult patients with ESKD. We used the barriers and facilitators survey by Peters et al. [Ruimte Voor Verandering? Knelpunten en Mogelijkheden Voor Verbeteringen in de Patiëntenzorg. Nijmegen: Afdeling Kwaliteit van zorg (WOK), 2003] as preliminary framework to create our own model and performed meta-ethnographic analysis of non-medical barriers in text, tables and figures.

Results: Of the 5973 articles screened, 16 articles were included using surveys (n = 10), interviews (n = 5) and focus groups (n = 1). We categorized the barriers into three levels: patient level (e.g. attitude, role perception, motivation, knowledge and socio-cultural background), level of the healthcare professional (e.g. fears and concerns, working style, communication skills) and level of the healthcare system (e.g. financial barriers, supportive staff and practice organization).

Conclusions: Our systematic review has identified a number of modifiable, non-medical barriers that could be targeted by, for example, education and optimizing financing structure to improve access to RRT modalities and CCM.

Keywords: CAPD; ESKD; chronic haemodialysis; kidney transplantation; peritoneal dialysis.