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Association of primary care involvement with death or hospitalizations for patients starting dialysis

Silver SA, Bota SE, McArthur E, Clemens KK, Harel Z, Naylor KL, Sood MM, Garg AX, Wald R. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2020; 15(4):521-9. Epub 2020 Mar 6. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2215/CJN.10890919


Background and Objectives — It is uncertain whether primary care physician continuity of care associates with a lower risk of death and hospitalization among patients transitioning to maintenance dialysis.

Design, Setting, Participants, and Measurements — Using provincial-linked administrative databases in Ontario, Canada, we conducted a population-based study of incident patients who initiated maintenance dialysis between 2005 and 2014 and survived for at least 90 days. We defined high primary care physician continuity as both a high usual provider of care index (where >75% of primary care physician visits occurred with the same primary care physician) in the 2 years before dialysis (an established measure of primary care physician continuity) and at least one visit with the same primary care physician in the 90 days after dialysis initiation. We used propensity scores to match a group of patients with high and low continuity so that indicators of baseline health were similar. The primary outcome was all-cause mortality, and secondary outcomes included all-cause and disease-specific hospitalizations during the 2 years after maintenance dialysis initiation.

Results — We identified 19,099 eligible patients. There were 6612 patients with high primary care physician continuity, of whom 6391 (97%) were matched to 6391 patients with low primary care physician continuity. High primary care physician continuity was not associated with a lower risk of mortality (14.5 deaths per 100 person-years versus 15.2 deaths per 100 person-years; hazard ratio, 0.96; 95% confidence interval, 0.89 to 1.02). There was no difference in the rate of all-cause hospitalizations (hazard ratio, 0.96; 95% confidence interval, 0.92 to 1.01), and high primary care physician continuity was not associated with a lower risk of any disease-specific hospitalization, except for those related to diabetes (hazard ratio, 0.88; 95% confidence interval, 0.80 to 0.97).

Conclusions — High primary care physician continuity before and during the transition to maintenance dialysis was not associated with a lower risk of mortality or all-cause hospitalization.

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