End-of-Life Experience of Older Adults Dying of End-Stage Renal Disease: a Comparison with Cancer.

TitleEnd-of-Life Experience of Older Adults Dying of End-Stage Renal Disease: a Comparison with Cancer.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsWachterman, MW, Lipsitz, SR, Lorenz, KA, Marcantonio, ER, Li, Z, Keating, NL
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
ISSN Number1873-6513
KeywordsCancer screenings, End of life decisions, Kidney disease, Mortality

CONTEXT: Older adults with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) are a rapidly growing group of seriously-ill patients. Yet, despite a mortality rate almost twice that of cancer, less is known about ESRD's impact on patients' end-of-life experience.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the end-of-life experience of older adults who died of ESRD versus cancer.

METHODS: We used data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a nationally-representative survey of older adults. Our sample included 1883 HRS participants who died of cancer or ESRD between 2000 and 2010 and their family respondents. We compared advance care planning, treatment intensity, and symptoms between the two groups, and used propensity score weighting to adjust for differences by diagnosis.

RESULTS: Among propensity-weighted cohorts, older adults with ESRD, compared with similar patients with cancer, were less likely to have end-of-life instructions (adjusted proportions 38.5% vs. 49.7%, P=.005) and were more likely to die in the hospital (53.5% vs. 29.0%, P<.001) and to use the ICU in the last two years of life (57.1% vs. 37.0%, P<.001). Decedents with ESRD and cancer had similarly high rates of moderate or severe pain (53.7% vs. 57.8%, P=.34) and all other symptoms.

CONCLUSION: Older adults dying of ESRD had lower rates of advance care planning and higher treatment intensity near the end of life than similar patients dying of cancer; both groups had similarly high rates of symptoms. Efforts are needed to make treatment more supportive and alleviate suffering for older adults with ESRD and their families near the end of life.

User Guide Notes


Alternate JournalJ Pain Symptom Manage
Citation Key9301
PubMed ID28843455
PubMed Central IDPMC5786651
Grant ListK23 AG049088 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
K24 AG035075 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
K24 CA181510 / CA / NCI NIH HHS / United States
R01 NR013372 / NR / NINR NIH HHS / United States