Topic Spotlight

Kidney Disease

PCORI Answers Critical Questions

Evidence gaps can make it difficult to know which kidney disease treatment will work best given a patient’s needs. PCORI funds studies that seek to help patients, clinicians and others answer various questions they might have about treatment options, such as:

Caregiver: I’m overwhelmed trying to understand the pros and cons of treatment options now that my father’s kidneys have shut down. How can we feel confident we’re making the best choices?

Patient: My doctor suggests I take a blood-thinning drug to avoid developing another blood clot. But she acknowledges she doesn’t know how well these drugs work in people with chronic kidney disease, like me. Should I take one of these drugs? If so, which one?

Doctor: Here on the Zuni Indian Reservation in New Mexico, many people need dialysis for kidney disease. Would our tribe’s health improve if indigenous community health workers provided care in patients’ homes instead of patients having to come to our clinic?

Study Results that Support Better-Informed Decisions

An older white female looks down with a forlorn, sad expression on her face. A senior African-American male seated on a couch, resting his head on his fists, in deep thought. Treating Depression in Patients with Kidney Failure Receiving Dialysis
Depression is common in people who are on dialysis and can affect kidney health, as well as overall well-being. A recent PCORI-funded study looked at how well two treatments for depression — talk therapy and an antidepressant — work for people on dialysis. View our latest Evidence Updates for clinicians and patients.


A female patient, looking sad, lying in a hospital bed with tubes in her arm. For Hemodialysis Patients, Depression Drug Worked Better than Cognitive Therapy
More patients with kidney failure undergoing long-term hemodialysis who also had depression reported modest improvements in their depressive symptoms with the drug sertraline than patients receiving cognitive behavioral therapy, PCORI-funded researchers report in the Annals of Internal Medicine. However, patients who opted for the daily medication experienced greater adverse events, such as nausea and dizziness.

Kidney Disease Study Spotlights

Kidney Transplants through Health System Change

This study is looking into whether a more proactive outreach program can help patients with kidney failure overcome roadblocks to receive transplants earlier in the course of disease.

Choosing Kidney Failure Treatments Early

This study is testing whether, compared with usual care, a patient-centered approach to transitional care improves outcomes for patients with kidney failure.

Extended Treatment of Blood Clots in People with Kidney Disease

Choosing drugs that prevent recurrence of deep-vein blood clots is challenging for people with impaired kidney function. This study compares the drugs’ benefits and risks over the long term.

Kidney Disease Portfolio Snapshots

Kidney Disease portfolio - most studied populations of interest --- Racial/ethnic minorities 14* --- Older adults 13 --- Individuals with multiple chronic conditions 10 --- Low socioeconomic status 9 --- Low health literacy 6 --- Urban 3 --- As of Novembe
95% of PCORI's 19 funded studies related to kidney disease focus on treatment. As of January 2021.