Hemodialysis Use and Practice Patterns: An International Survey Study

Am J Kidney Dis. 2021 Mar;77(3):326-335.e1. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2020.05.030. Epub 2020 Aug 13.


Rationale & objective: Hemodialysis (HD) is the most common form of kidney replacement therapy. This study aimed to examine the use, availability, accessibility, affordability, and quality of HD care worldwide.

Study design: A cross-sectional survey.

Setting & participants: Stakeholders (clinicians, policy makers, and consumer representatives) in 182 countries were convened by the International Society of Nephrology from July to September 2018.

Outcomes: Use, availability, accessibility, affordability, and quality of HD care.

Analytical approach: Descriptive statistics.

Results: Overall, representatives from 160 (88%) countries participated. Median country-specific use of maintenance HD was 298.4 (IQR, 80.5-599.4) per million population (pmp). Global median HD use among incident patients with kidney failure was 98.0 (IQR, 81.5-140.8) pmp and median number of HD centers was 4.5 (IQR, 1.2-9.9) pmp. Adequate HD services (3-4 hours 3 times weekly) were generally available in 27% of low-income countries. Home HD was generally available in 36% of high-income countries. 32% of countries performed monitoring of patient-reported outcomes; 61%, monitoring of small-solute clearance; 60%, monitoring of bone mineral markers; 51%, monitoring of technique survival; and 60%, monitoring of patient survival. At initiation of maintenance dialysis, only 5% of countries used an arteriovenous access in almost all patients. Vascular access education was suboptimal, funding for vascular access procedures was not uniform, and copayments were greater in countries with lower levels of income. Patients in 23% of the low-income countries had to pay >75% of HD costs compared with patients in only 4% of high-income countries.

Limitations: A cross-sectional survey with possibility of response bias, social desirability bias, and limited data collection preventing in-depth analysis.

Conclusions: In summary, findings reveal substantial variations in global HD use, availability, accessibility, quality, and affordability worldwide, with the lowest use evident in low- and lower-middle-income countries.

Keywords: ESKD care; HD accessibility; HD affordability; HD availability; Hemodialysis (HD); RRT modality; end-stage kidney disease (ESKD); funding for HD services; global survey; health care delivery; health care disparities; health policy; international differences; kidney failure; quality of HD services; renal replacement therapy (RRT).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arteriovenous Shunt, Surgical
  • Cost Sharing
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Developed Countries
  • Developing Countries
  • Health Expenditures
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Internationality*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Nephrology
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Transportation of Patients