Teamwork Is the Key, but How Does the Team Work?

Study evaluates physicians' preferences regarding collaborative care of kidney disease patients

(RxWiki News) Caring for patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a complex undertaking that requires the skills of various knowledgeable individuals.

As such, many primary care physicians and kidney specialists prefer a collaborative care method for treating patients of CKD.

However, the timing and manner in which collaboration should occur is an issue under debate, according to a new study to be published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Collaboration between primary care physicians and kidney specialists has been shown to slow the development of CKD. Furthermore, collaborative care helps prepare patients for dialysis or kidney transplant surgery. While health professionals prefer collaborative care, the content of that care is a point of contention.

With an estimated 4.5 million cases of kidney disease in the United States, researchers are looking for ways to improve care. As part of this search, Clarissa Jonas Diamantidis, M.D., from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and colleagues evaluated physicians' level of willingness to collaborate, their preferred collaborative strategies, and the potential obstacles to collaboration.

The researchers gave a questionnaire to a national sample of 124 primary care physicians and 120 kidney specialists. The survey asked the health professionals questions about the care of a hypothetical CKD patient. The results showed that 85 percent of primary care physicians and 94 percent of kidney specialists favor collaborative care.

While the vast majority of these professionals prefer collaboration and sustained involvement on the part of primary care physicians, one half of kidney specialists report that their patients were referred to them late. Additionally, the researchers found that primary care physicians were less likely to prefer collaboration if insurance policies seemed to restrict their ability to refer patients to a kidney specialist.

According to the study's authors, their findings show a level of agreement concerning collaboration between primary care physicians and kidney specialists. However, Dr. Diamantidis adds that the discrepancies between their preferred collaborative practices exhibit the need to improve the relationship between the two parties of health care professionals in order that communication is improved, thus improving the care and health of CKD patients.

Review Date: 
January 8, 2011