for people ages 70 years and up (full criteria)
at San Diego, California and other locations
study started
estimated completion



Good communication among patients, their families and loved ones, and their medical care providers is important when figuring out how to treat chronic diseases like kidney disease. A lot of people may not know all of their choices for how to treat kidney disease, and this can lead to rushed decisions or even a sense that there weren't any choices to make. In this study, the investigators are trying to find out if a decision-aid program on a computer can help people with kidney disease have more confidence in their decisions and have better agreement about their decisions with their families and loved ones. The DART study will be conducted at four sites in different areas of the country: Boston, Massachusetts; Portland, Maine; Chicago, Illinois; and San Diego, California. The study will enroll a total of 400 people with kidney disease at these four sites.

Official Title

Decision Aid for Renal Therapy: Promoting Knowledge and Autonomy in Chronic Kidney Disease Patients and Their Care-Partners


Aligning patient preferences (goals of care and values) with treatment is essential for quality health care. Treatment of life-limiting illness is especially preference-sensitive, where high-intensity care often offers marginal survival benefit but can worsen quality of life. Elderly persons with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) may face a choice between high-intensity dialysis and low-intensity conservative management (CM). This decision is of special import because it is often irreversible as dialysis itself can diminish residual kidney function. In adults over 70 years-old with advanced CKD, dialysis on average confers only marginally better survival than medical management while reducing independence and mobility and increasing medical procedures. Poor communication about benefits and risks of treatment options available to these patients results in decisional conflict: a state of uncertainty associated with making a choice that best reflects values and preferences. However, it is unclear how to best educate patients and their care-partners about their treatment choices and the importance of advance care planning. The objective of this trial is to compare the effectiveness of two widely used strategies, in-person education alone versus in-person education plus an interactive web-based decision aid, in: 1) reducing decisional conflict and empowering patients and care-partners to select treatment aligned with patient preferences; and 2) improving care-partners' ability to confidently and accurately express patients' preferences when patients are unable (proxy decision-making). The hypothesis is that, compared to traditional in-person education, use of the Decision Aid for Renal Therapy (DART) will decrease decisional conflict, increase completion of advance directives, improve patient and caregiver satisfaction with treatment (quantitative outcomes), and contribute to greater patient engagement, satisfaction with decision-making, and care-partner concordance (qualitative and quantitative outcomes). DART is a web-based multimedia decision-aid that is designed to be accessible to individuals with limited health literacy. The investigators will evaluate whether use of DART results in greater patient understanding of options, leading to better discussions with care providers, and ultimately lower decisional conflict and greater completion of advanced directives compared with the comparator, in-person education. DART is replicable, consistent, can be shared with care-partners, and can be viewed in the comfort of the patient's home. This randomized clinical trial targeting 400 older adults with advanced kidney disease and as many as 400 of their care-partners compares the effectiveness of DART plus in-person education to in-person education alone for reducing decisional conflict and increasing completion of advance care plans (ACPs) among older adults with advanced CKD and their care-partners. Patients and patient-care-partner pairs will be surveyed at baseline for goals of care, life goals, health literacy, patient activation, end-of-life (EOL) preferences and baseline scores on other study outcome measures, and followed at 3- to 6-month intervals for up to 18 months, censoring at dialysis, death or study end, to collect data on decisional conflict and completion of advance directives as well as QOL, satisfaction, dyad concordance and medical events, such as dialysis initiation.


Chronic Kidney Diseases Kidney Failure, Chronic Chronic Kidney Disease Chronic Kidney Failure Palliative Care Dialysis End-of-life care Decision making Kidney Diseases Renal Insufficiency, Chronic Renal Insufficiency Decision Aid for Renal Therapy


You can join if…

Open to people ages 70 years and up

  • CKD stages 4 or 5 (non-dialysis) without an established dialysis start or transplant date within three months of expected randomization;
  • Age >70 (with no upper limit);
  • English speaking;
  • Willingness to be randomized to DART; and
  • Able to sign informed consent.

You CAN'T join if...

  • death, dialysis initiation or transplant deemed highly likely within the next three months by the patient's nephrologist


  • University of California San Diego
    San Diego California 92103 United States
  • Northwestern University
    Chicago Illinois 60611 United States


in progress, not accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
Tufts University
Study Type
Last Updated