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J Am Soc Nephrol. 1997 Nov;8(11):1755-63.

An analysis of risk factors for withdrawal from dialysis before death.

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Department of Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48103, USA.


Withdrawal from dialysis has been a significant cause of mortality among dialysis patients, accounting for 6 to 22% of deaths. Since 1990, a new death notification form has allowed more detailed analyses of withdrawal from dialysis separate from causes of death. Using the U.S. Renal Data System data base, this study examined 116,829 deaths in adult patients from 1990 to 1995. Adjusted odds ratios were calculated for the risk of withdrawal using logistic regression. Adjustments included age at death, ethnicity, gender, cause of death, primary cause of end-stage renal disease, time on dialysis, and dialysis modality. In addition, odds ratios of withdrawal were calculated for deaths in patients who started dialysis after age 65. Death was preceded by withdrawal significantly more frequently in women than in men, more than twice as frequently in Caucasians than in African-Americans or Asians, and more frequently in older than in younger age groups. Patients who died of chronic diseases (e.g., dementia, malignancy) were much more likely to withdraw before death, whereas patients who died from more acute causes (e.g., coronary artery disease) were less likely to withdraw before death. It is concluded that patients who are Caucasian, female, older, or die of chronic or progressive diseases are more likely to withdraw from dialysis before death. The ethnic and gender differences in withdrawal do not appear to have a medical explanation from this analysis. Further research along sociologic lines is needed to better explain the differences in withdrawal from chronic dialysis.

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