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Discussions of the kidney disease trajectory by elderly patients and nephrologists: a qualitative study.

Publication ,  Journal Article
Schell, JO; Patel, UD; Steinhauser, KE; Ammarell, N; Tulsky, JA
Published in: Am J Kidney Dis
April 2012

BACKGROUND: Elderly patients with advanced kidney disease experience considerable disability, morbidity, and mortality. Little is known about the impact of physician-patient interactions on patient preparation for the illness trajectory. We sought to describe how nephrologists and older patients discuss and understand the prognosis and course of kidney disease leading to renal replacement therapy. METHODS: We conducted focus groups and interviews with 11 nephrologists and 29 patients older than 65 years with advanced chronic kidney disease or receiving hemodialysis. Interviews were audiorecorded and transcribed. We used qualitative analytic methods to identify common and recurrent themes related to the primary research question. RESULTS: We identified 6 themes that describe how the kidney disease trajectory is discussed and understood: (1) patients are shocked by their diagnosis, (2) patients are uncertain how their disease will progress, (3) patients lack preparation for living with dialysis, (4) nephrologists struggle to explain illness complexity, (5) nephrologists manage a disease over which they have little control, and (6) nephrologists tend to avoid discussions of the future. Patients and nephrologists acknowledged that prognosis discussions are rare. Patients tended to cope with thoughts of the future through avoidance by focusing on their present clinical status. Nephrologists reported uncertainty and concern for evoking negative reactions as barriers to these conversations. CONCLUSIONS: Patients and nephrologists face challenges in understanding and preparing for the kidney disease trajectory. Communication interventions that acknowledge the role of patient emotion and address uncertainty may improve how nephrologists discuss disease trajectory with patients and thereby enhance their understanding and preparation for the future.

Duke Scholars

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Published In

Am J Kidney Dis

DOI

EISSN

1523-6838

Publication Date

April 2012

Volume

59

Issue

4

Start / End Page

495 / 503

Location

United States

Related Subject Headings

  • Urology & Nephrology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Renal Replacement Therapy
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Prognosis
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Middle Aged
  • Male
  • Kidney Diseases
  • Interviews as Topic
 

Citation

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Schell, J. O., Patel, U. D., Steinhauser, K. E., Ammarell, N., & Tulsky, J. A. (2012). Discussions of the kidney disease trajectory by elderly patients and nephrologists: a qualitative study. Am J Kidney Dis, 59(4), 495–503. https://doi.org/10.1053/j.ajkd.2011.11.023
Schell, Jane O., Uptal D. Patel, Karen E. Steinhauser, Natalie Ammarell, and James A. Tulsky. “Discussions of the kidney disease trajectory by elderly patients and nephrologists: a qualitative study.Am J Kidney Dis 59, no. 4 (April 2012): 495–503. https://doi.org/10.1053/j.ajkd.2011.11.023.
Schell JO, Patel UD, Steinhauser KE, Ammarell N, Tulsky JA. Discussions of the kidney disease trajectory by elderly patients and nephrologists: a qualitative study. Am J Kidney Dis. 2012 Apr;59(4):495–503.
Schell, Jane O., et al. “Discussions of the kidney disease trajectory by elderly patients and nephrologists: a qualitative study.Am J Kidney Dis, vol. 59, no. 4, Apr. 2012, pp. 495–503. Pubmed, doi:10.1053/j.ajkd.2011.11.023.
Schell JO, Patel UD, Steinhauser KE, Ammarell N, Tulsky JA. Discussions of the kidney disease trajectory by elderly patients and nephrologists: a qualitative study. Am J Kidney Dis. 2012 Apr;59(4):495–503.
Journal cover image

Published In

Am J Kidney Dis

DOI

EISSN

1523-6838

Publication Date

April 2012

Volume

59

Issue

4

Start / End Page

495 / 503

Location

United States

Related Subject Headings

  • Urology & Nephrology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Renal Replacement Therapy
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Prognosis
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Middle Aged
  • Male
  • Kidney Diseases
  • Interviews as Topic