Older Patients with Advanced Chronic Kidney Disease and Their Perspectives on Prognostic Information: a Qualitative Study

Bjorg Thorsteinsdottir, Nataly R. Espinoza Suarez, Susan Curtis, Annika T. Beck, Ian Hargraves, Kevin Shaw, Susan P.Y. Wong, La Tonya J. Hickson, Kasey R. Boehmer, Brigid Amberg, Erin Dahlen, Cristina Wirtz, Robert C. Albright, Ashok Kumbamu, Jon C. Tilburt, Erica J. Sutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Prognostic information is key to shared decision-making, particularly in life-limiting illness like advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD). Objective: To understand the prognostic information preferences expressed by older patients with CKD. Design and Participants: Qualitative study of 28 consecutively enrolled patients over 65 years of age with non-dialysis dependent CKD stages 3b-5, receiving care in a multi-disciplinary CKD clinic. Approach: Semi-structured telephone or in-person interviews to explore patients’ preference for and perceived value of individualized prognostic information. Interviews were analyzed using inductive content analysis. Key Results: We completed interviews with 28 patients (77.7 ± SD 6.8 years, 69% men). Patients varied in their preference for prognostic information and more were interested in their risk of progression to end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) than in life expectancy. Many conflated ESKD risk with risk of death, perceiving a binary choice between dialysis and quick decline and death. Patients expressed that prognostic information would allow them to plan, take care of important business, and think about their treatment options. Patients were accepting of prognostic uncertainty and imagined leveraging it to nurture hope or motivate them to better manage risk factors. They endorsed the desire to receive prognosis of life expectancy even though it may be hard to accept or difficult to talk about but worried it could create helplessness for other patients in their situation. Conclusion: Most, but not all, patients were interested in prognostic information and could see its value in motivating behavior change and allowing planning. Some patients expressed concern that information on life expectancy might cause depression and hopelessness. Therefore, prognostic information is most appropriate as part of a clinical conversation that fosters shared decision-making and helps patients consider treatment risks, benefits, and burdens in context of their lives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1031-1037
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • communication
  • dialysis risk
  • palliative care
  • prognosis
  • shared decision-making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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