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Am J Nephrol. 2016;44(1):46-53. doi: 10.1159/000447097. Epub 2016 Jun 29.

Racial Disparities in End-of-Life Communication and Preferences among Chronic Kidney Disease Patients.

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Division of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., USA.



Previous studies on end-of-life (EOL) care among patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have been largely limited to White hemodialysis patients. In this study, we sought to explore racial variability in EOL communication, care preferences and advance care planning (ACP) among patients with advanced CKD prior to decisions regarding the initiation of dialysis.


We performed a cross-sectional study between 2013 and 2015 of Black and White patients with stage IV or V CKD (per the Modified Diet in Renal Disease estimation of GFR <30 ml/min/1.73 m2) from 2 academic centers in Boston. We assessed experiences with EOL communication, ACP, EOL care preferences, hospice knowledge, spiritual/religious and cultural beliefs, and distrust of providers.


Among 152 participants, 41% were Black. Black patients were younger, had less education, and lower income than White patients (all p < 0.01). Black patients also had less knowledge of hospice compared to White patients (17 vs. 61%, p < 0.01). A small fraction of patients (8%) reported having EOL discussions with their nephrologists and the majority had no advance directives. In multivariable analyses, Blacks were more likely to have not communicated EOL preferences (adjusted OR 2.70, 95% CI 1.08-6.76) and more likely to prefer life-extending treatments (adjusted OR 3.06, 95% CI 1.23-7.60) versus Whites.


As Black and White patients with advanced CKD differ in areas of EOL communication, preferences, and hospice knowledge, future efforts should aim to improve patient understanding and promote informed decision-making.

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