Decision Aid for Renal Therapy (DART)

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Tufts University




Chronic Kidney Diseases
Kidney Failure, Chronic


Other: Decision Aid for Renal Therapy

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


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.

Full description

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.


400 patients




70+ years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • 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.

Exclusion criteria

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

Trial design

Primary purpose

Supportive Care



Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


None (Open label)

400 participants in 2 patient groups

Decision Aid for Renal Therapy
Active Comparator group
Usual Care as in the 'no intervention arm' below plus access to an web-based decision aid, the Decision Aid for Renal Therapy to patients and their care-partners
Other: Decision Aid for Renal Therapy
Usual Care
No Intervention group
In-person education as would be done at study sites plus 'Choosing a Treatment for Kidney Failure', an educational booklet published by the National Kidney Foundation

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from

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