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Am J Kidney Dis. 2012 Mar;59(3 Suppl 2):S24-33. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2011.11.019.

Physician utilization, risk-factor control, and CKD progression among participants in the Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP).

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  • 1Christiana Care Health System, Center for Outcomes Research, Newark, DE 19713, USA.



Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular mortality, but little is known about the association between physician utilization and cardiovascular disease risk-factor control in patients with CKD. We used 2005-2010 data from the National Kidney Foundation's Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP) to examine this association at first and subsequent screenings.


Control of risk factors was defined as control of blood pressure, glycemia, and cholesterol levels. We used multinomial logistic regression to examine the association between participant characteristics and seeing a nephrologist after adjusting for kidney function and paired t tests or McNemar tests to compare characteristics at first and second screenings.


Of 90,009 participants, 61.3% had a primary care physician only, 2.9% had seen a nephrologist, and 15.3% had seen another specialist. The presence of 3 risk factors (hypertension, diabetes, and hypercholesterolemia) increased from 26.8% in participants with CKD stages 1-2 to 31.9% in those with stages 4-5. Target levels of all risk factors were achieved in 7.2% of participants without a physician, 8.3% of those with a primary care physician only, 9.9% of those with a nephrologist, and 10.3% of those with another specialist. Of up to 7,025 participants who met at least one criterion for nephrology consultation at first screening, only 12.3% reported seeing a nephrologist. Insurance coverage was associated strongly with seeing a nephrologist. Of participants who met criteria for nephrology consultation, 406 (5.8%) returned for a second screening, of whom 19.7% saw a nephrologist. The percentage of participants with all risk factors controlled was higher at the second screening (20.9% vs 13.3%).


Control of cardiovascular risk factors is poor in the KEEP population. The percentage of participants seeing a nephrologist is low, although better after the first screening. Identifying communication barriers between nephrologists and primary care physicians may be a new focus for KEEP.

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