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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Clinical pharmacy activities in chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease patients: a systematic literature review

Gunar Stemer12* and Rosa Lemmens-Gruber1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Vienna, Althanstraße 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria

2 Pharmacy Department, Vienna General Hospital, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, 1090 Vienna, Austria

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BMC Nephrology 2011, 12:35  doi:10.1186/1471-2369-12-35

Published: 22 July 2011



Chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) represent worldwide health problems with an epidemic extent. Therefore, attention must be given to the optimisation of patient care, as gaps in the care of CKD and ESRD patients are well documented. As part of a multidisciplinary patient care strategy, clinical pharmacy services have led to improvements in patient care. The purpose of this study was to summarise the available evidence regarding the role and impact of clinical pharmacy services for these patient populations.


A literature search was conducted using the Medline, Embase and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts databases to identify relevant studies on the impact of clinical pharmacists on CKD and ESRD patients, regarding disease-oriented and patient-oriented outcomes, and clinical pharmacist interventions on drug-related problems.


Among a total of 21 studies, only four (19%) were controlled trials. The majority of studies were descriptive (67%) and before-after studies (14%). Interventions comprised general clinical pharmacy services with a focus on detecting, resolving and preventing drug-related problems, clinical pharmacy services with a focus on disease management, or clinical pharmacy services with a focus on patient education in order to increase medication knowledge. Anaemia was the most common comorbidity managed by clinical pharmacists, and their involvement led to significant improvement in investigated disease-oriented outcomes, for example, haemoglobin levels. Only four of the studies (including three controlled trials) presented data on patient-oriented outcomes, for example, quality of life and length of hospitalisation. Studies investigating the number and type of clinical pharmacist interventions and physician acceptance rates reported a mean acceptance rate of 79%. The most common reported drug-related problems were incorrect dosing, the need for additional pharmacotherapy, and medical record discrepancies.


Few high-quality trials addressing the benefit and impact of clinical pharmacy services in CKD and ESRD patients have been published. However, all available studies reported some positive impact resulting from clinical pharmacist involvement, including various investigated outcome measures that could be improved. Additional randomised controlled trials investigating patient-oriented outcomes are needed to further determine the role of clinical pharmacists and the benefits of clinical pharmacy services to CKD and ESRD patients.