A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of Integrated Palliative Care and Nephrology Care

Kidney360. 2022 Aug 12;3(10):1720-1729. doi: 10.34067/KID.0000352022. eCollection 2022 Oct 27.


Background: There has been a call by both patients and health professionals for the integration of palliative care with nephrology care, yet there is little evidence describing the effect of this approach. The objective of this paper is to report the feasibility and acceptability of a pilot randomized controlled trial testing the efficacy of integrated palliative and nephrology care.

Methods: English speaking patients with CKD stage 5 were randomized to monthly palliative care visits for 3 months in addition to their usual care, as compared with usual nephrology care. Feasibility of recruitment, retention, completion of intervention processes, and feedback on participation was measured. Other outcomes included differences in symptom burden change, measured by the Integrated Palliative Outcome Scale-Renal, and change in quality of life, measured by the Kidney Disease Quality of Life questionnaire and completion of advance care planning documents.

Results: Of the 67 patients approached, 45 (67%) provided informed consent. Of these, 27 patients completed the study (60%), and 14 (74%) of those in the intervention group completed all visits. We found small improvements in overall symptom burden (-2.92 versus 1.57) and physical symptom burden scores (-1.92 versus 1.79) in the intervention group. We did not see improvements in the quality-of-life scores, with the exception of the physical component score. The intervention group completed more advance care planning documents than controls (five health care proxy forms completed versus one, nine Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment forms versus none).

Conclusions: We found that pilot testing through a randomized controlled trial of an ambulatory integrated palliative and nephrology care clinical program was feasible and acceptable to participants. This intervention has the potential to improve the disease experience for those with nondialysis CKD and should be tested in other CKD populations with longer follow-up.

Clinical trials registry name and registration number: Pilot Randomized-controlled Trial of Integrated Palliative and Nephrology Care Versus Usual Nephrology Care, NCT04520984.

Keywords: geriatric and palliative nephrology; palliative care; pilot projects; randomized controlled trials.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic* / therapy
  • Nephrology*
  • Palliative Care
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04520984