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Bowling CB, Berkowitz TSZ, Smith B, Whitson HE, DePasquale N, Wang V, Maciejewski ML, Olsen MK. Unintended Consequences of COVID-19 Social Distancing Among Older Adults With Kidney Disease. The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences. 2022 Apr 1; 77(4):e133-e137.
BACKGROUND: While social distancing policies protect older adults with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) from exposure to COVID-19, reduced social interaction may also have unintended consequences. METHODS: To identify subgroups of patients at risk for unintended health consequences of social distancing, we conducted a cross-sectional analysis of data from a national cohort study of older veterans with advanced CKD (n = 223). Characteristics included activities of daily living (ADLs), instrumental ADLs (IADLs), cognition score, depression score, social support, financial stress, symptom burden, and number of chronic conditions. Unintended consequences of social distancing included restricted Life Space mobility, low willingness for video telehealth, reduced in-person contact with caregivers, and food insecurity. We identified subgroups of patients at risk of unintended consequences using model-based recursive partitioning (MoB). RESULTS: Participants had a mean age of 77.9 years, 64.6% were white, and 96.9% were male. Overall, 22.4% of participants had restricted Life Space, 33.9% reported low willingness for video telehealth, 19.0% reported reduced caregiver contact, and 3.2% reported food insecurity. For Life Space restriction, 4 subgroups partitioned (ie, split) by IADL difficulty, cognition score, and ADL difficulty were identified. The highest rate of restricted Life Space was 54.7% in the subgroup of participants with > 3 IADL difficulties. For low willingness for telehealth and reduced caregiver contact, separate models identified 2 subgroups split by cognition score and depression score, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Measures of function, cognition, and depressive symptoms may identify older adults with advanced CKD who are at higher risk for unintended health consequences of social distancing.