Minding the gap and overlap: A literature review of fragmentation of primary care for chronic dialysis patients

Virginia Wang, Clarissa J. Diamantidis, Janell Wylie, Raquel C. Greer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Care coordination is a challenge for patients with kidney disease, who often see multiple providers to manage their associated complex chronic conditions. Much of the focus has been on primary care physician (PCP) and nephrologist collaboration in the early stages of chronic kidney disease, but less is known about the co-management of the patients in the end-stage of renal disease. We conducted a systematic review and synthesis of empirical studies on primary care services for dialysis patients. Methods: Systematic literature search of MEDLINE/PubMED, CINAHL, and EmBase databases for studies, published until August 2015. Inclusion criteria included publications in English, empirical studies involving human subjects (e.g., patients, physicians), conducted in US and Canadian study settings that evaluated primary care services in the dialysis patient population. Results: Fourteen articles examined three major themes of primary care services for dialysis patients: perceived roles of providers, estimated time in providing primary care, and the extent of dialysis patients' use of primary care services. There was general agreement among providers that PCPs should be involved but time, appropriate roles, and miscommunication are potential barriers to good primary care for dialysis patients. Although many dialysis patients report having a PCP, the majority rely on primary care from their nephrologists. Studies using administrative data found lower rates of preventive care services than found in studies relying on provider or patient self-report. Discussion: The extant literature revealed gaps and opportunities to optimize primary care services for dialysis patients, foreshadowing the challenges and promise of Accountable Care / End-Stage Seamless Care Organizations and care coordination programs currently underway in the United States to improve clinical and logistical complexities of care for this commonly overlooked population. Studies linking the relationship between providers and patients' receipt of primary care to outcomes will serve as important comparisons to the nascent care models for ESRD patients, whose value is yet to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number274
JournalBMC nephrology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 29 2017


  • Coordination of care
  • Maintenance dialysis
  • Outcomes
  • Physicians
  • Primary care services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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