Barriers to effective communication between veterans with chronic kidney disease and their healthcare providers

Swati Lederer, Michael J. Fischer, Howard S. Gordon, Anuradha Wadhwa, Subhash Popli, Elisa J. Gordon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Many patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have insufficient knowledge about CKD, which is associated with poorer health outcomes. Effective patient-provider communication can improve CKD patients' knowledge, thereby augmenting their participation in self-care practices. However, barriers to addressing CKD patients' information needs have not been previously characterized. Methods: Adults with an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) of <60 mL/min/1.73m2 or on chronic dialysis or with a kidney transplant were recruited from a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) nephrology clinic. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted to assess patients' CKD information needs and demographic characteristics. A qualitative approach was used to analyze interview transcripts and identify themes pertaining to communication dynamics. Results: Thirty-two patients participated. The mean age of participants was 63 years; most were male (94%) and non-Hispanic white (53%). CKD severity groups represented included CKD-3 (eGFR 30-59 mL/min/1.73m2; 34%), CKD-4 (eGFR 15-29 mL/min/1.73m2; 25%), CKD-5 (eGFR >15 mL/min/1.73m2; 16%), end-stage kidney disease on dialysis (13%) and kidney transplant recipients (12%). Several key themes emerged about barriers to patient-provider communication based on patients' reported care at both VA and non-VA facilities, including patients perceived their role as a 'listener', reported limited CKD knowledge, did not understand physicians' explanations and were dissatisfied with the patient-provider relationship. Conclusions: Several barriers to patient-provider communication prevent patients from meeting their information needs and perpetuate patient passivity. Future research should evaluate whether interventions that empower CKD patients to actively participate in their care increase knowledge and improve health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)766-771
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Kidney Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2015


  • Barriers
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Communications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology
  • Transplantation


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