Effective methods to treat end stage renal disease (ESRD) in children have become available in the United States during the last 3 decades. Since the United States Congress created the Medicare ESRD Program in 1972, most children with ESRD have the option of Medicare insurance. Medicare expenditures for children with ESRD range from $14,000 for transplant recipients to $43,000 for dialysis patients per year. The tremendous expense of ESRD treatment has led to research to determine which treatment options are associated with the best health outcomes and the best value (quality/cost) for the money spent treating ESRD. The National Kidney Foundation's Dialysis Outcomes Quality Initiative recommends the use of quality of life and health status measures to gauge the impact of renal replacement therapy on quality of life in the ESRD population. In adult patients with renal failure, several generic and disease-specific quality of life measures have been validated and tested for reliability. In contrast, little research using validated and reliable health status measures has been performed in pediatric patients to measure the impact of ESRD. This article summarizes existing literature on how we currently measure the impact of dialysis and transplantation on children, discusses existing health status measures for children and adolescents, and describes how these measures might be used to improve our care of patients and long-term outcomes for children with kidney failure.
- Quality of life
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