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Lessons learned from efforts to improve the quality of care in children with end-stage renal disease in the Netherlands and Belgium
  1. Wilma F Tromp1,
  2. Johanna H van der Lee2,
  3. Martin Offringa2,
  4. Antonia H M Bouts1,
  5. Laure Collard3,
  6. Karlien Cransberg4,
  7. Rita Van Damme-Lombaerts5,
  8. Nathalie Godefroid6,7,
  9. Koen Van Hoeck8,
  10. Linda Koster-Kamphuis9,
  11. Marc R Lilien10,
  12. Ann Raes11,
  13. Jaap W Groothoff1
  1. 1Department of Pediatric Nephrology, Emma Children's Hospital AMC, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Pediatric Clinical Epidemiology, Emma Children's Hospital AMC, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Pediatric Nephrology, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Liège, Liège, Belgium
  4. 4Department of Pediatric Nephrology, Sophia Children's Hospital EMC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  5. 5Department of Pediatric Nephrology, University Hospital Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  6. 6Department of Pediatric Nephrology, Hopital Universitaire des Enfants Reine Fabiola, Brussels, Belgium
  7. 7Department of Pediatric Nephrology, Université Catolique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
  8. 8Department of Pediatric Nephrology, University Hospital Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
  9. 9Department of Pediatric Nephrology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  10. 10Department of Pediatric Nephrology, Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, University Medical Center, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  11. 11Department of Pediatric Nephrology, University Hospital Ghent, Ghent, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to WF Tromp, Department of Pediatric Nephrology, Emma Children's Hospital AMC, Room A01-247, Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands; w.f.tromp{at}

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Quality improvement research strives to bridge the gap between ideal and actual care.1 Many paediatric diseases are rare, and thus there is insufficient evidence to define ‘ideal care’. Low prevalences and generally small patient numbers in centres in which children with rare diseases are treated create considerable barriers for clinical studies and for the development of evidence based guidelines. As a consequence, most existing guidelines are derived from studies in adults and lack any paediatric evidence.2 Here we focus on paediatric end-stage renal disease (ESRD) as an example of a clinical field in which these challenges are encountered.

In contrast to the situation in adults, ESRD in children is a rare disorder: in the Western world, the annual incidence rate of ESRD in patients <19 years of age is about 6–8 per million age related population. In a population of 3.9 million people below the age of 20 years in the Netherlands3 and 2.5 million in Belgium,4 this implies on average about 30 new patients per year in the Netherlands and 20 in Belgium. So that patients do not have to travel too far for treatment, there are four dialysis centres in the Netherlands and six in Belgium; consequently all dialysis centres are very small. ESRD in children is a serious and life-threatening disorder. Data on long term outcomes show that overall mortality in young adults is about 30 times increased5 6 and the risk for cardiovascular death is increased more than 100 times compared to an age related population.7 In survivors, juvenile ESRD has an important impact on somatic and psychosocial functioning in adult life: over 40% of the adult survivors of ESRD in children have daily somatic co-morbidity and about 20% are severely disabled.6 8 As compared to the general population, …

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  • Funding RICH-Q is funded by the Dutch Kidney Foundation. The funder had no role in the design and conduct of the project, data gathering or interpretation, or in the preparation of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.