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Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2006 Nov;1(6):1256-62. Epub 2006 Sep 13.

Nephrologists' reported preparedness for end-of-life decision-making.

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Division of Nephrology and Immunology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Nephrologists commonly engage in end-of-life decision-making with patients with ESRD and their families. The purpose of this study was to determine the perceived preparedness of nephrologists to make end-of-life decisions and to determine factors that are associated with the highest level of perceived preparedness. The nephrologist members of the Renal Physicians Association (RPA) and the Canadian Society of Nephrology were invited to participate in an online survey of their end-of-life decision-making practices. A total of 39% of 360 respondents perceived themselves as very well prepared to make end-of-life decisions. Age >46 yr, six or more patients withdrawn from dialysis in the preceding year, and awareness of the RPA/American Society of Nephrology (ASN) guideline on dialysis decision-making were independently associated with the highest level of self-reported preparedness. Nephrologists who reported being very well prepared were more likely to use time-limited trials of dialysis and stop dialysis of a patient with permanent and severe dementia. Compared with Americans, Canadian nephrologists reported being equally prepared to make end-of-life decisions, stopped dialysis of a higher number of patients, referred fewer to hospice, and were more likely to stop dialysis of a patient with severe dementia. Nephrologists who have been in practice longer and are knowledgeable of the RPA/ASN guideline report greater preparedness to make end-of-life decisions and report doing so more often in accordance with guideline recommendations. To improve nephrologists' comfort with end-of-life decision-making, fellowship programs should teach the recommendations in the RPA/ASN guideline and position statement.

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