To maximize participation, we held the stakeholders’ conference—which included 100 participants from 17 states—in conjunction with our Spring Clinical Meetings, NKF’s premier conference for kidney health professionals. In a striking change from most research discussions, patients really drove the conversation. Researchers sat back, listened, and asked follow-up questions. Patients shared their perspectives and helped shape research questions. The group came to a consensus on top kidney disease research priorities, the main barriers to completing kidney disease patient-centered outcome research, and the best solutions to remove those barriers. More details are in the conference summary.
“This is the beginning, turning discussions into action to change the landscape,” Forfang says.
More NKF Initiatives to Promote Kidney-Related PCOR
Since the conference, NKF has already applied many learnings and insights to engaging patients in all aspects of research. For example, in 2018, NKF provided a $40,000 Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Grant, focusing on top kidney disease priorities identified by the patients attending the conference. The 2018 NKF Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Grant was awarded to Daphne Knicely, MD, at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for a pilot study on patient education interventions to improve health literacy among kidney patients.
Another PCORI-funded NKF project is The Home Dialysis Controversies Conference Project, which over the course of two years has brought together a multi-stakeholder group of patients, clinicians, caregivers, researchers, health payers, and healthcare industry representatives to facilitate the development of research designs that aim to measure home dialysis quality as well as interventions to address the barriers to maintaining dialysis treatment at home.
In December 2018, the NKF held this project’s second conference, to present project designs from three multi-stakeholder working groups that were established after the 2017 Home Dialysis Controversies Conference. The working groups presented projects that could overcome barriers to getting, or keeping, patients on home dialysis, including overcoming the barriers to training and support for care partners. The project team and working groups found that creating opportunities for mentorships among patients and caregivers and education of all kidney professionals and patients are key to successful home dialysis. Based on the presentations and feedback from the conference attendees, the NKF will lead a new initiative to raise awareness about home dialysis, find ways to encourage home dialysis as a first choice for treatment for kidney failure, and prevent home dialysis patients from quitting treatment at home because they are burned out.
We are also contributing to a number of PCORI-funded research studies that will improve the lives of those impacted by kidney disease and those who care for them, including a project to reduce disparities in kidney care for underserved minority populations. That study, Comparing the Effectiveness of House Calls and Peer Mentorship to Reduce Racial Disparities in Live Donor Kidney Transplantation, led by James R. Rodrigue, PhD, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the NKF, will compare interventions for helping African-American patients increase their chances of a living donor kidney transplant.
Researchers will test the effectiveness of the House Calls program, an education session delivered in the patient’s home, against education traditionally provided in transplant centers. Both trainings aim to increase living donor kidney transplants among African Americans living with kidney disease who are eligible for a transplant. The study will also test a combined House Calls and Peer Mentorship approach that matches patients with someone who received a living kidney donor transplant. The donor recipient will provide emotional support and guidance throughout the transplant process. Results from this research will help doctors and clinic administrators determine the best ways to improve African-American patients’ chances of getting a living kidney donor transplant.
At the National Kidney Foundation, we serve not only to improve the lives of the millions of Americans with kidney disease, but also to reduce the burden on future patients. Partnering with PCORI to advance patient-centered research is critical to accomplishing these goals.
The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of PCORI.