Background: Acute kidney injury (AKI) survivors are at risk for chronic kidney disease, recurrent AKI, and cardiovascular disease. The transition from hospital to ambulatory care is an opportunity to reduce these sequelae by launching self-care plans through effective patient education. How well AKI survivors are informationally prepared to apply kidney-specific self-care is unknown. The purpose of this study was to identify awareness and disease-specific knowledge among AKI survivors. Methods: We performed a cross-sectional survey of AKI-related awareness and knowledge in 137 patients with Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcomes Stage II or III AKI near the time of hospital discharge. Patients were asked (1) "Did you experience AKI while in the hospital?" and (2) "Do you have a problem with your kidney health?" Objective knowledge of AKI was evaluated with a 15-item adapted version of the validated Kidney Knowledge Survey that included topics such as common causes, risk factors, and how AKI is diagnosed. Results: Median age was 54 (interquartile range 43-63) and 81% were white. Eighty percent of patients were unaware that they had experienced AKI and 53% were both unaware they had experienced AKI or had a "problem with their kidneys." Multivariable logistic regression identified being male and lack of nephrology consult as predictors of unawareness with ORs of 3.92 (95% CI 1.48-10.33) and 5.10 (95% CI 1.98-13.13), respectively. Less than 50% recognized nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, contrast, or phosphate-based cathartics as risk factors for AKI. Two-thirds of patients did not agree that they knew a lot about AKI and more than 80% desired more information. Conclusions: Most patients with moderate to severe AKI are unaware of their condition, lack understanding of risk factors for recurrent AKI, and desire more information. Patient-centered communication to optimize awareness, understanding, and care will require coordinated educational strategies throughout the continuum of AKI care.
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