Background: In dialysis patients, physical function is associated with mortality. However, the association between physical function at the time of dialysis initiation and subsequent mortality remains unknown. Methods: A total of 1496 patients with chronic kidney disease who initiated dialysis at 17 centers participating in the Aichi Cohort Study of the Prognosis in Patients Newly Initiated into Dialysis, a multicenter prospective cohort study, were included. The patients were divided into the high (H)-, middle (M)-, and low (L)-score groups according to Barthel index (BI) at the time of dialysis initiation, and the all-cause, cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related, and infection-related mortality rates were compared. Moreover, factors affecting all-cause mortality were investigated. The effects of BI on mortality were assessed in the patients stratified by age, sex, and history of CVD or cerebral infarction. Results: A log-rank test for the Kaplan–Meier survival curve showed significant differences between the three groups in all-cause, CVD-related, and infection-related mortality rates (p < 0.001). Cox proportional hazard regression analysis with the step-wise method showed a significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality in the M and L groups than in the H group (M group: HR 1.612, 95 % CI 1.075–2.417; L group: HR 1.994, 95 % CI 1.468–2.709). Regardless of the age categories and the history of CVD, the risk of all-cause mortality was significantly higher in the L group than in the H group. Conclusion: Physical function assessed by BI at the time of dialysis initiation was found to be associated with subsequent mortality.
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