African Americans’ Hemodialysis Treatment Adherence Data Assessment and Presentation: A Precision-Based Paradigm Shift to Support Quality Improvement Activities

Ebele M. Umeukeje*, Deklerk Ngankam, Lauren B. Beach, Jennifer Morse, Heather L. Prigmore, Thomas G. Stewart, Julia B. Lewis, Kerri L. Cavanaugh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Rationale & Objective: Thrice-weekly hemodialysis can result in adequate urea clearance; however, the morbidity and mortality rates of patients treated with maintenance dialysis remain unacceptably high, partly because of nonadherence. African Americans have a higher prevalence of kidney failure treated with dialysis, greater dialysis nonadherence, and higher odds of hospitalization. We hypothesized that more precise ways of assessing dialysis treatment adherence will reflect the severity of nonadherence, distinguish patterns of nonadherence, and inform the design of personalized behavioral interventions. Study Design: Retrospective cohort study. Setting & Participants: African American patients receiving hemodialysis for >90 days. Exposure: Hemodialysis. Outcome: Dialysis adherence. Analytical Approach: Dialysis attendance data were displayed using a dot plot, categorized based on missed and shortened treatments, and examined for patterns. Descriptive characteristics were reported. In an exploratory analysis, associations between dialysis treatment adherence and participant characteristics were evaluated using ordinary least squares regression. An analysis was performed using missed minutes of dialysis and current metrics for measuring dialysis treatment adherence (ie, missed and shortened treatments). Results: Among 113 African American patients treated with dialysis, 47% were men; the median age was 57 years (interquartile range, 46-70 years), and the median dialysis vintage was 54 months (interquartile range, 22-90 months). With rows ordered based on the total missed minutes of dialysis, the dot plot displayed a decreasing gradient in the severity of nonadherence, with novel dialysis treatment adherence categories termed as follows: consistent underdialysis, inconsistent dialysis, and consistent dialysis. Distinct patterns of nonadherence and heterogeneity emerged within these categories. Older age was consistently associated with better adherence, as determined by the analyses performed using the total missed minutes of dialysis as well as missed and shortened treatments. Limitations: The study findings, although replicable and paradigm-shifting, might be limited by the short timeline, focus on adherence data specific to African American patients treated with dialysis, and restriction to dialysis units affiliated with 1 academic center. Conclusions: This study presents more precise and novel ways of measuring and displaying dialysis treatment adherence. The findings introduce a more personalized approach for evaluating actual dialysis uptake. Identification of unique patterns of adherence behavior is important to inform the design of effective behavioral interventions and improve outcomes for vulnerable African American patients treated with dialysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100394
JournalKidney Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Adherence
  • African Americans
  • dialysis
  • end-stage kidney disease
  • hemodialysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology
  • Internal Medicine


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