Dialysis or kidney transplantation in older adults? A systematic review summarizing functional, psychological, and quality of life-related outcomes after start of kidney replacement therapy

Tessa S. Schoot*, Namiko A. Goto, Rob J. van Marum, Luuk B. Hilbrands, Angèle P. M. Kerckhoffs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Background: In older patients, the choice between kidney transplantation (KT) and dialysis may be complicated because of a high prevalence of comorbidities and geriatric syndromes. Ideally, this decision-making process focusses on older patients’ outcome priorities, which frequently include functional, psychological, and quality of life (QOL)-related outcomes. Purpose: This systematic review aims to summarize functional, psychological (including cognition), and QOL-related outcomes after start of kidney replacement therapy (KRT) in older adults. Methods: We searched PubMed and Embase for research that investigated change in these variables after start of KRT in patients aged ≥ 60 years. Data were extracted using the summary measures reported in the individual studies. Risk of bias was assessed with the ROBINS-I tool. Results: Sixteen observational studies (prospective n = 9, retrospective n = 7; KT-recipients n = 3, dialysis patients n = 13) were included. The results show that QOL improves in the majority of the older KT recipients. After start of dialysis, QOL improved or remained stable for most patients, but this seems less prevalent than after KT. Functional status decreases in a substantial part of the older dialysis patients. Furthermore, the incidence of serious fall injuries increases after start of dialysis. Nutritional status seems to improve after start of dialysis. Conclusion: The interpretability and comparability of the included studies are limited by the heterogeneity in study designs and significant risk of bias in most studies. Despite this, our overview of functional, psychological (including cognition), and QOL-related outcomes is useful for older adults and their clinicians facing the decision between KT and dialysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2891-2900
Number of pages10
Issue number11
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Cite this