Background: Maximal conservative management (MCM) may be an appropriate alternative option for dialysis in some elderly patients with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). Evidence about the impact of dialysis or MCM on quality of life (QoL) in older patients is sparse. In the GOLD (Geriatric assessment in OLder patients starting Dialysis) Study the trajectory of QoL was assessed in patients starting dialysis or MCM.
Methods: Patients ≥65 years old were included just prior to dialysis initiation or after decision for MCM. Baseline data included demographics, frailty as measured with a geriatric assessment, comorbidity (CIRS-G) and QoL, measured with the EQ-5D-3 L (EQ-5D Index and overall self-rated health). Six months follow-up data included QoL, hospitalizations and mortality. Change of QoL was assed with paired t-tests. Cox-regression was used to assess survival of MCM and dialysis patients.
Results: The cohort comprised 192 dialysis and 89 MCM patients. The MCM patients were older (mean age 82 ± 6 vs. 75 ± 7 years, p < 0.01) and mean kidney function was better (eGFR 11.5 ± 4.0 vs. 8.0 ± 2.9 ml/min/1.73m2, p < 0.01). Baseline QoL did not differ significantly between the groups. After six months, EQ-5D Index did not improve significantly in the dialysis group with mean ± standard error (SE) 0.026 ± 0.014 (p = 0.10; not clinically relevant), but a small but clinically relevant decline was seen in the conservative group: 0.047 ± 0.022 (p < 0.01; between group difference p < 0.01). Hospitalization occurred in 50% of dialysis patients vs. 24% of conservative patients (p < 0.01). In patients over 80 years old, no survival benefit could be found for dialysis patients starting dialysis vs. MCM.
Conclusion: A small decline of QoL was found for conservative patients, while QoL did not change in dialysis patients. However, hospitalization rate was higher in patients starting dialysis. In patients over 80 years, no survival benefit was found.
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