Free access to paper on whether “chronic kidney disease” is a disease?'


  • Author: Statistics Views
  • Date: 06 May 2019

Each week, we select a recently published article and offer either free access or highlight a recent open access publication. This week's is from the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice and is available from the October 2018 issue.

Is “chronic kidney disease” a disease?

Benjamin T.H. Smart PhD, Richard J. Stevens PhD and Jan Y. Verbakel MD, PhD

Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, Volume 24, Issue 5, October 2018, pages 1033-1040


thumbnail image: Free access to paper on whether “chronic kidney disease” is a disease?'

Several philosophers of medicine have attempted to answer the question “what is disease?” In current clinical practice, an umbrella term “chronic kidney disease” (CKD) encompasses a wide range of kidney health states from commonly prevalent subclinical, asymptomatic disease to rare end‐stage renal disease requiring transplant or dialysis to support life. Differences in severity are currently expressed using a “stage” system, whereby stage 1 is the least severe, and stage 5 the most. Early stage CKD in older patients is normal, of little concern, and does not require treatment. However, studies have shown that many patients find being informed of their CKD distressing, even in its early stages. Using existing analyses of disease in the philosophy literature, we argue that the most prevalent diagnoses of CKD are not, in fact, diseases. We conclude that, in many diagnosed cases of CKD, diagnosing a patient with a “disease” is not only redundant, but unhelpful.

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