Frequency of Patient-Physician Contact and Patient Outcomes in Hemodialysis Care

Laura C. Plantinga, Nancy E. Fink, John H. Sadler, Andrew S. Levey, Nathan W. Levin, Haya R. Rubin, Josef Coresh, Michael J. Klag, Neil R. Powe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


There is little evidence supporting the widespread belief that regular patient-physician contact in chronic disease management leads to better patient outcomes. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship of the frequency of patient-physician contact with several patient outcomes in a prospective cohort study begun in 1995 of incident hemodialysis patients treated at 75 US dialysis clinics. Average frequency of patient-physician contact at each clinic was determined by clinic survey (low, monthly or less frequent; intermediate, between monthly and weekly; high, more than weekly). The authors used logistic, Poisson, and Cox proportional hazards regression analyses to assess the relationship between contact and satisfaction, quality of life, patient adherence, hospitalizations, and mortality. Of 735 hemodialysis patients, 14.3% were treated at clinics with high frequency of contact, 65.2% intermediate, and 20.5% low. Patients treated at clinics reporting less frequent physician contact had lower odds of rating the frequency at which they saw a nephrologist excellent (low: adjusted OR = 0.39, 95% CI, 0.23-0.67; intermediate: adjusted OR = 0.57, 95% CI, 0.37-0.87; reference, high) and greater odds of nonadherence (low: adjusted OR = 2.89, 95% CI, 1.01-8.29; intermediate: adjusted OR = 1.58, 95% CI, 0.78-3.19). However, patient survival did not vary by frequency of physician contact (low: adjusted RH = 0.87, 95% CI, 0.53-1.44; intermediate: adjusted RH = 1.33, 95% CI, 0.82-2.13), nor did patients' overall ratings of care, hospitalization rates, or quality of life measures. Although less frequent patient-physician contact was associated with lower patient satisfaction with that contact and patient nonadherence, it was not associated with several other outcomes of care. Future studies are needed to assess the individual frequency and nature of physician contact over time, including total time spent with the patient and quality of the interaction, to guide the provision of patient-centered and cost-effective care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-218
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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