I specialize in the care of patients with chronic kidney disease as a result of any cause and have specific expertise in caring for patients with kidney failure. This includes treating kidney failure with the best medical therapy, which may include options such as dialysis. I am passionate about delivering kidney disease care that fits with a patient’s and their family’s goals. This includes working with the other members of our kidney care team, nurses, dietitians and social workers as well as coordinating with the Vanderbilt palliative care providers to offer treatment in line with these goals. Our team specializes in this type of care for patients with kidney disease.

My patient-oriented research focuses on identifying ways to improve doctors’ and other health providers’ communication with patients and their families. This includes developing new written and video materials to enhance the way we talk about kidney health, its evaluation and its treatments. I have led a team that has developed surveys that evaluate the kidney knowledge and self-efficacy related to care of kidney disease. These are important tools to understand the impact of new communication strategies. I have received funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Kidney Foundation and the American Society of Nephrology to support this research to improve patient-centered care for those with kidney disease. These contributions have also been highlighted in The New York Times.

At Vanderbilt, I am the Medical Director of the Vanderbilt Dialysis Clinic-Campus and also serve as a research mentor to nephrology fellowship trainees.


The following timeline graph is generated from all co-authored publications.

Featured publications are shown below:

  1. An Informed and Activated Patient: Addressing Barriers in the Pathway From Education to Outcomes. Wright Nunes JA, Cavanaugh KL, Fagerlin A (2016) Am J Kidney Dis 67(1): 1-4
    › Primary publication · 26708191 (PubMed) · PMC4878396 (PubMed Central)
  2. Disparities in Electronic Health Record Patient Portal Use in Nephrology Clinics. Jhamb M, Cavanaugh KL, Bian A, Chen G, Ikizler TA, Unruh ML, Abdel-Kader K (2015) Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 10(11): 2013-22
    › Primary publication · 26493242 (PubMed) · PMC4633780 (PubMed Central)
  3. Performance of a brief survey to assess health literacy in patients receiving hemodialysis. Cavanaugh KL, Osborn CY, Tentori F, Rothman RL, Ikizler TA, Wallston KA (2015) Clin Kidney J 8(4): 462-8
    › Primary publication · 26251719 (PubMed) · PMC4515892 (PubMed Central)
  4. Validation of the Written Administration of the Short Literacy Survey. Dageforde LA, Cavanaugh KL, Moore DE, Harms K, Wright A, Pinson CW, Feurer ID (2015) J Health Commun 20(7): 835-42
    › Primary publication · 26073801 (PubMed) · PMC4698961 (PubMed Central)
  5. Evaluating the Merits of CKD Patient Educational Materials: Readability Is Necessary But Not Sufficient. Tuot DS, Cavanaugh KL (2015) Am J Kidney Dis 65(6): 814-6
    › Primary publication · 26003608 (PubMed)
  6. Self-Motivation Is Associated With Phosphorus Control in End-Stage Renal Disease. Umeukeje EM, Merighi JR, Browne T, Victoroff JN, Umanath K, Lewis JB, Ikizler TA, Wallston KA, Cavanaugh K (2015) J Ren Nutr 25(5): 433-9
    › Primary publication · 25912398 (PubMed) · PMC4546917 (PubMed Central)
  7. Specialist and primary care physicians' views on barriers to adequate preparation of patients for renal replacement therapy: a qualitative study. Greer RC, Ameling JM, Cavanaugh KL, Jaar BG, Grubbs V, Andrews CE, Ephraim P, Powe NR, Lewis J, Umeukeje E, Gimenez L, James S, Boulware LE (2015) BMC Nephrol : 37
    › Primary publication · 25885460 (PubMed) · PMC4387659 (PubMed Central)
  8. Results of a novel screening tool measuring dietary sodium knowledge in patients with chronic kidney disease. Wright Nunes JA, Anderson CA, Greene JH, Ikizler TA, Cavanaugh KL (2015) BMC Nephrol : 42
    › Primary publication · 25880876 (PubMed) · PMC4387682 (PubMed Central)
  9. Validation of a Short, 3-Item Version of the Subjective Numeracy Scale. McNaughton CD, Cavanaugh KL, Kripalani S, Rothman RL, Wallston KA (2015) Med Decis Making 35(8): 932-6
    › Primary publication · 25878195 (PubMed) · PMC4592371 (PubMed Central)
  10. Understanding Patient Barriers to Kidney Transplant Evaluation. Dageforde LA, Box A, Feurer ID, Cavanaugh KL (2015) Transplantation 99(7): 1463-9
    › Primary publication · 25606794 (PubMed) · PMC4495014 (PubMed Central)
  11. Understanding the influence of educational attainment on kidney health and opportunities for improved care. Green JA, Cavanaugh KL (2015) Adv Chronic Kidney Dis 22(1): 24-30
    › Primary publication · 25573509 (PubMed)
  12. Prioritizing patient-centered care implementation and research for patients with kidney disease. Cavanaugh KL (2015) Semin Dial 28(2): 131-40
    › Primary publication · 25470535 (PubMed)
  13. Health numeracy: perspectives about using numbers in health management from African American patients receiving dialysis. Wright Nunes JA, Osborn CY, Ikizler TA, Cavanaugh KL (2015) Hemodial Int 19(2): 287-95
    › Primary publication · 25358522 (PubMed) · PMC4489845 (PubMed Central)
  14. Health literacy of living kidney donors and kidney transplant recipients. Dageforde LA, Petersen AW, Feurer ID, Cavanaugh KL, Harms KA, Ehrenfeld JM, Moore DE (2014) Transplantation 98(1): 88-93
    › Primary publication · 24573114 (PubMed) · PMC4422102 (PubMed Central)
  15. Perceptions and use of the national kidney foundation KDOQI guidelines: a survey of U.S. renal healthcare providers. Estrella MM, Jaar BG, Cavanaugh KL, Fox CH, Perazella MA, Soman SS, Howell E, Rocco MV, Choi MJ, National Kidney Foundation (2013) BMC Nephrol : 230
    › Primary publication · 24152744 (PubMed) · PMC4016578 (PubMed Central)
  16. Educational programs improve the preparation for dialysis and survival of patients with chronic kidney disease. Kurella Tamura M, Li S, Chen SC, Cavanaugh KL, Whaley-Connell AT, McCullough PA, Mehrotra RL (2014) Kidney Int 85(3): 686-92
    › Primary publication · 24067435 (PubMed)
  17. Patient-reported outcomes in clinical trials of CKD-related therapies: report of a symposium sponsored by the national kidney foundation and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Perrone RD, Coons SJ, Cavanaugh K, Finkelstein F, Meyer KB (2013) Am J Kidney Dis 62(6): 1046-57
    › Primary publication · 23988757 (PubMed)
  18. Health literacy: emerging evidence and applications in kidney disease care. Dageforde LA, Cavanaugh KL (2013) Adv Chronic Kidney Dis 20(4): 311-9
    › Primary publication · 23809283 (PubMed) · PMC3767572 (PubMed Central)
  19. Validation of the diabetes numeracy test with adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Mulvaney SA, Lilley JS, Cavanaugh KL, Pittel EJ, Rothman RL (2013) J Health Commun 18(7): 795-804
    › Primary publication · 23577642 (PubMed) · PMC3817720 (PubMed Central)
  20. Prevalence of pre-end-stage renal disease care and associated outcomes among urban, micropolitan, and rural dialysis patients. Maripuri S, Ikizler TA, Cavanaugh KL (2013) Am J Nephrol 37(3): 274-80
    › Primary publication · 23548738 (PubMed) · PMC3787839 (PubMed Central)
  21. Pilot study of a physician-delivered education tool to increase patient knowledge about CKD. Wright Nunes J, Greene JH, Wallston K, Eden S, Shintani A, Elasy T, Rothman RL, Ikizler TA, Cavanaugh KL (2013) Am J Kidney Dis 62(1): 23-32
    › Primary publication · 23540261 (PubMed) · PMC3686835 (PubMed Central)
  22. Development and validation of the General Health Numeracy Test (GHNT). Osborn CY, Wallston KA, Shpigel A, Cavanaugh K, Kripalani S, Rothman RL (2013) Patient Educ Couns 91(3): 350-6
    › Primary publication · 23433635 (PubMed) · PMC3644342 (PubMed Central)
  23. Getting more people TALKing about kidney transplantation. Cavanaugh KL (2013) Am J Kidney Dis 61(3): 368-70
    › Primary publication · 23414730 (PubMed)
  24. Numeracy and dietary intake in patients with type 2 diabetes. Bowen ME, Cavanaugh KL, Wolff K, Davis D, Gregory B, Rothman RL (2013) Diabetes Educ 39(2): 240-7
    › Primary publication · 23399688 (PubMed) · PMC4127807 (PubMed Central)
  25. Acknowledging kidney disease: is ignorance salubrious? Cavanaugh KL, Ikizler TA (2013) Am J Kidney Dis 61(4): 536-9
    › Primary publication · 23312722 (PubMed)
  26. Incidence and predictors of end stage renal disease among low-income blacks and whites. Lipworth L, Mumma MT, Cavanaugh KL, Edwards TL, Ikizler TA, Tarone RE, McLaughlin JK, Blot WJ (2012) PLoS One 7(10): e48407
    › Primary publication · 23110237 (PubMed) · PMC3480508 (PubMed Central)
  27. Rural and micropolitan residence and mortality in patients on dialysis. Maripuri S, Arbogast P, Ikizler TA, Cavanaugh KL (2012) Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 7(7): 1121-9
    › Primary publication · 22516293 (PubMed) · PMC3386672 (PubMed Central)
  28. Patient knowledge of blood pressure target is associated with improved blood pressure control in chronic kidney disease. Wright-Nunes JA, Luther JM, Ikizler TA, Cavanaugh KL (2012) Patient Educ Couns 88(2): 184-8
    › Primary publication · 22459637 (PubMed) · PMC3404190 (PubMed Central)
  29. Associations between access to care and awareness of CKD. Shah A, Fried LF, Chen SC, Qiu Y, Li S, Cavanaugh KL, Norris KC, Whaley-Connell AT, McCullough PA, Mehrotra R, KEEP Investigators (2012) Am J Kidney Dis 59(3 Suppl 2): S16-23
    › Primary publication · 22339898 (PubMed) · PMC3644220 (PubMed Central)
  30. Patient-provider communication in patients with diabetes and depressive symptoms. Green JK, Rothman RL, Cavanaugh KL (2012) Diabetes Res Clin Pract 95(1): e10-3
    › Primary publication · 21995868 (PubMed) · PMC3246039 (PubMed Central)
  31. Health literacy explains racial disparities in diabetes medication adherence. Osborn CY, Cavanaugh K, Wallston KA, Kripalani S, Elasy TA, Rothman RL, White RO (2011) J Health Commun : 268-78
    › Primary publication · 21951257 (PubMed) · PMC3561717 (PubMed Central)
  32. Health literacy in diabetes care: explanation, evidence and equipment. Cavanaugh KL (2011) Diabetes Manag (Lond) 1(2): 191-199
    › Primary publication · 21860659 (PubMed) · PMC3158575 (PubMed Central)
  33. Associations among perceived and objective disease knowledge and satisfaction with physician communication in patients with chronic kidney disease. Wright Nunes JA, Wallston KA, Eden SK, Shintani AK, Ikizler TA, Cavanaugh KL (2011) Kidney Int 80(12): 1344-51
    › Primary publication · 21832984 (PubMed) · PMC3712792 (PubMed Central)
  34. Outpatient versus inpatient observation after percutaneous native kidney biopsy: a cost minimization study. Maripuri S, Penson DF, Ikizler TA, Cavanaugh KL (2011) Am J Nephrol 34(1): 64-70
    › Primary publication · 21677428 (PubMed) · PMC3123742 (PubMed Central)
  35. Addressing Health Literacy and Numeracy to Improve Diabetes Education and Care. White RO, Wolff K, Cavanaugh KL, Rothman R (2010) Diabetes Spectr 23(4): 238-243
    › Primary publication · 21297890 (PubMed) · PMC3032499 (PubMed Central)
  36. Development and results of a kidney disease knowledge survey given to patients with CKD. Wright JA, Wallston KA, Elasy TA, Ikizler TA, Cavanaugh KL (2011) Am J Kidney Dis 57(3): 387-95
    › Primary publication · 21168943 (PubMed) · PMC3053083 (PubMed Central)
  37. Self-efficacy links health literacy and numeracy to glycemic control. Osborn CY, Cavanaugh K, Wallston KA, Rothman RL (2010) J Health Commun : 146-58
    › Primary publication · 20845200 (PubMed) · PMC3082364 (PubMed Central)
  38. Low health literacy associates with increased mortality in ESRD. Cavanaugh KL, Wingard RL, Hakim RM, Eden S, Shintani A, Wallston KA, Huizinga MM, Elasy TA, Rothman RL, Ikizler TA (2010) J Am Soc Nephrol 21(11): 1979-85
    › Primary publication · 20671215 (PubMed) · PMC3014012 (PubMed Central)
  39. Dietary sodium in chronic kidney disease: a comprehensive approach. Wright JA, Cavanaugh KL (2010) Semin Dial 23(4): 415-21
    › Primary publication · 20557489 (PubMed) · PMC2921029 (PubMed Central)
  40. Is it always wrong to perform futile CPR? Choma DP, Cavanaugh KL, Dwyer JP (2010) N Engl J Med 362(21): 2036; author reply 2036-7
    › Primary publication · 20518111 (PubMed)
  41. Time to recognize an overlooked trait. Cavanaugh KL, Lanzkron S (2010) J Am Soc Nephrol 21(3): 385-6
    › Primary publication · 20133485 (PubMed) · PMC4473247 (PubMed Central)
  42. CRP polymorphisms and progression of chronic kidney disease in African Americans. Hung AM, Crawford DC, Griffin MR, Brown-Gentry K, Lipkowitz MS, Siew ED, Cavanaugh K, Lewis JB, Ikizler TA, AASK Study Group (2010) Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 5(1): 24-33
    › Primary publication · 19965533 (PubMed) · PMC2801650 (PubMed Central)
  43. Lower risk of urinary tract infection with low-dose trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole compared to dapsone prophylaxis in older renal transplant patients on a rapid steroid-withdrawal immunosuppression regimen. Giullian JA, Cavanaugh K, Schaefer H (2010) Clin Transplant 24(5): 636-42
    › Primary publication · 19925478 (PubMed) · PMC4489856 (PubMed Central)
  44. Patient perspectives on fluid management in chronic hemodialysis. Smith K, Coston M, Glock K, Elasy TA, Wallston KA, Ikizler TA, Cavanaugh KL (2010) J Ren Nutr 20(5): 334-41
    › Primary publication · 19913443 (PubMed) · PMC2888683 (PubMed Central)
  45. Addressing literacy and numeracy to improve diabetes care: two randomized controlled trials. Cavanaugh K, Wallston KA, Gebretsadik T, Shintani A, Huizinga MM, Davis D, Gregory RP, Malone R, Pignone M, DeWalt D, Elasy TA, Rothman RL (2009) Diabetes Care 32(12): 2149-55
    › Primary publication · 19741187 (PubMed) · PMC2782967 (PubMed Central)
  46. Oral protein supplementation alone improves anabolism in a dose-dependent manner in chronic hemodialysis patients. Sundell MB, Cavanaugh KL, Wu P, Shintani A, Hakim RM, Ikizler TA (2009) J Ren Nutr 19(5): 412-21
    › Primary publication · 19500999 (PubMed) · PMC2758490 (PubMed Central)
  47. Diabetes numeracy: an overlooked factor in understanding racial disparities in glycemic control. Osborn CY, Cavanaugh K, Wallston KA, White RO, Rothman RL (2009) Diabetes Care 32(9): 1614-9
    › Primary publication · 19401443 (PubMed) · PMC2732142 (PubMed Central)
  48. Patient dialysis knowledge is associated with permanent arteriovenous access use in chronic hemodialysis. Cavanaugh KL, Wingard RL, Hakim RM, Elasy TA, Ikizler TA (2009) Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 4(5): 950-6
    › Primary publication · 19389825 (PubMed) · PMC2676183 (PubMed Central)
  49. Literacy, numeracy, and portion-size estimation skills. Huizinga MM, Carlisle AJ, Cavanaugh KL, Davis DL, Gregory RP, Schlundt DG, Rothman RL (2009) Am J Prev Med 36(4): 324-8
    › Primary publication · 19285197 (PubMed) · PMC2692952 (PubMed Central)
  50. The Diabetes Literacy and Numeracy Education Toolkit (DLNET): materials to facilitate diabetes education and management in patients with low literacy and numeracy skills. Wolff K, Cavanaugh K, Malone R, Hawk V, Gregory BP, Davis D, Wallston K, Rothman RL (2009) Diabetes Educ 35(2): 233-6, 238-41, 244-5
    › Primary publication · 19240246 (PubMed) · PMC4547782 (PubMed Central)
  51. Accuracy of patients' reports of comorbid disease and their association with mortality in ESRD. Cavanaugh KL, Merkin SS, Plantinga LC, Fink NE, Sadler JH, Powe NR (2008) Am J Kidney Dis 52(1): 118-27
    › Primary publication · 18589216 (PubMed) · PMC2587104 (PubMed Central)
  52. Low numeracy skills are associated with higher BMI. Huizinga MM, Beech BM, Cavanaugh KL, Elasy TA, Rothman RL (2008) Obesity (Silver Spring) 16(8): 1966-8
    › Primary publication · 18535541 (PubMed) · PMC2694664 (PubMed Central)
  53. Association of numeracy and diabetes control. Cavanaugh K, Huizinga MM, Wallston KA, Gebretsadik T, Shintani A, Davis D, Gregory RP, Fuchs L, Malone R, Cherrington A, Pignone M, DeWalt DA, Elasy TA, Rothman RL (2008) Ann Intern Med 148(10): 737-46
    › Primary publication · 18490687 (PubMed)
  54. Development and validation of the Diabetes Numeracy Test (DNT). Huizinga MM, Elasy TA, Wallston KA, Cavanaugh K, Davis D, Gregory RP, Fuchs LS, Malone R, Cherrington A, Dewalt DA, Buse J, Pignone M, Rothman RL (2008) BMC Health Serv Res : 96
    › Primary publication · 18452617 (PubMed) · PMC2390531 (PubMed Central)
  55. Agreement of self-reported comorbid conditions with medical and physician reports varied by disease among end-stage renal disease patients. Merkin SS, Cavanaugh K, Longenecker JC, Fink NE, Levey AS, Powe NR (2007) J Clin Epidemiol 60(6): 634-42
    › Primary publication · 17493523 (PubMed) · PMC1991281 (PubMed Central)