Race, ethnicity, and end-of-life care in dialysis patients in the United States

Robert N. Foley, Donal J. Sexton, Paul Drawz, Areef Ishani, Scott Reule

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background End-of-life care is a prominent consideration in patients on maintenance dialysis, especially when death appears imminent and quality of life is poor. To date, examination of race- and ethnicity-associated disparities in end-of-life care for patients with ESRD has largely been restricted to comparisons of white and black patients. Methods We performed a retrospective national study using United States Renal Data System files to determine whether end-of-life care in United States patients on dialysis is subject to racial or ethnic disparity. The primary outcome was a composite of discontinuation of dialysis and death in a nonhospital or hospice setting. Results Among 1,098,384 patients on dialysis dying between 2000 and 2014, the primary outcome was less likely in patients from any minority group compared with the non-Hispanic white population (10.9% versus 22.6%, P,0.001, respectively). We also observed similar significant disparities between any minority group and non-Hispanic whites for dialysis discontinuation (16.7% versus 31.2%), as well as hospice (10.3% versus 18.1%) and nonhospital death (34.4% versus 46.4%). After extensive covariate adjustment, the primary outcome was less likely in the combined minority group than in the non-Hispanic white population (adjusted odds ratio, 0.55; 95% confidence interval, 0.55 to 0.56; P,0.001). Individual minority groups (non-Hispanic Asian, non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic Native American, and Hispanic) were significantly less likely than non-Hispanic whites to experience the primary outcome. This disparity was especially pronounced for non-Hispanic Native American and Hispanic subgroups. Conclusions There appear to be substantial race- and ethnicity-based disparities in end-of-life care practices for United States patients receiving dialysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2387-2399
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018

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