Research directions: new clinical frontiers. Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • One of the greatest remaining challenges facing nephrology research is obtaining data with detail and precision for the three large, yet "forgotten," populations that span the spectrum of kidney disease: patients with chronic renal insufficiency (CRI), peritoneal dialysis patients, and kidney transplant patients. Studies of these populations, particularly the CRI group, are hampered by the relative mobility of these patients, the lack of stringent epidemiologic or clinical definitions, and the tendency to extrapolate data from hemodialysis populations into other clinical settings. This article suggests a two-pronged approach to a research agenda: first, by recognizing the need for better data regarding the natural history of these kidney failure subsets and their comorbidities; and second, by directing greater effort at identifying rational, efficacious, and cost-effective interventions to influence their natural history positively. Specific efforts are suggested in all three populations. For patients with CRI, studies should be directed at (1) identifying high-risk patients; (2) determining methods for making optimal referrals to the nephrologist; (3) identifying and managing CRI, its complications, and its comorbid conditions; and (4) establishing processes for the smooth transition to dialysis. The peritoneal dialysis population will benefit from studies addressing the treatment of anemia and its ability to modify cardiovascular illness and quality of life. Kidney transplant studies should also focus on the identification and management of comorbid conditions, as well as the effects of various interventions on quality of life. Rational evidence-based care of these conditions, which are critically important to patients, their families, and the health care system in general, must await the conduct of well-designed prospective observational and interventional trials.

publication date

  • December 2000