Enabling good outcomes in older adults on dialysis: a qualitative study
Background: Older patients on dialysis may not have optimal outcomes, particularly with regards to quality of life. Existing research is focused mainly on survival, with limited information about other outcomes. Such information can help in shared decision-making around dialysis initiation; it can also be used to improve outcomes in patients established on dialysis. We used qualitative research methods to explore patient perspectives regarding their experience and outcomes with dialysis.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews with participants aged ≥70, receiving dialysis at a regional Australian hospital, were recorded and transcribed. From participants’ responses, we identified descriptive themes using a phenomenological approach, with verification by two researchers. Factors affecting outcomes were derived reflexively from these themes.
Results: Seventeen interviews were analysed prior to saturation of themes. Participants (12 on haemodialysis, 5 on peritoneal dialysis) had spent an average of 4.3 years on dialysis. There were 11 males and 6 females, with mean age 76.2 years (range 70 to 83). Experiences of dialysis were described across four domains - the self, the body, effects on daily life and the influences of others; yielding themes of (i) responses to loss (of time, autonomy, previous life), (ii) responses to uncertainty (variable symptoms; unpredictable future; dependence on others), (iii) acceptance / adaptation (to life on dialysis; to ageing) and (iv) the role of relationships / support (family, friends and clinicians).
Conclusions: Older patients experience the effects of dialysis across multiple domains in their lives. They endure feelings of loss and persistent uncertainty, but may also adapt successfully to their new circumstances, aided by the support they receive from family, health professionals and institutions. From these insights, we have suggested practical measures to improve outcomes in older patients.
Publication titleBMC Nephrology
Department/SchoolTasmanian School of Medicine
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
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