Live and Learn: Patient Education Delays the Need to Initiate Renal Replacement Therapy in End-Stage Renal Disease

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During a longitudinal study of the quality of life of end-stage renal disease, 204 patients with deteriorating renal function were identified before dialysis or transplantation was required to preserve their lives. These patients were randomly assigned to either an enhanced or a standard education condition. The enhanced education condition consisted of a specially prepared slide-lecture show concerning kidney diseases and their treatment that was delivered by a trained research assistant. The standard education condition consisted of whatever educational procedures were routinely available at the participating hospital. All but six patients have now started treatment by maintenance dialysis. Individuals in the enhanced education condition survived an average of 4.6 months longer than did those in the standard education group without requiring the initiation of renal replacement therapy. This effect could not be attributed to physical differences between the groups, to cohort effects, to delays in contacting the patients, or to when or where they were identified. Possible mechanisms for this effect are discussed.

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