Background: Longer travel time to the dialysis unit creates a substantial burden for many patients. This study evaluated the effect of self-reported 1-way travel time to hemodialysis on mortality, health-related quality of life (HR-QOL), adherence, withdrawal from dialysis therapy, hospitalization, and transplantation.
Study design: Prospective observational cohort.
Setting & participants: Patients enrolled in the Dialysis Outcomes and Practices Patterns Study who completed a patient questionnaire (n = 20,994).
Predictor: One-way travel time to hemodialysis treatment, categorized as 15 or less, 16 to 30, 31 to 60, and longer than 60 minutes. Covariates included demographics, comorbid conditions, serum albumin level, time on dialysis therapy, and country.
Outcome & measurement: HR-QOL was examined by using a linear mixed model. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to examine associations with mortality, withdrawal from dialysis therapy, hospitalization, and transplantation.
Results: Longer travel time was associated with greater adjusted relative risk (RR) of death (P = 0.05 for overall trend). Adjusted HR-QOL subscales were significantly lower for those with longer travel times compared with those traveling 15 minutes or less. There were no associations of travel time with withdrawal from dialysis therapy (P = 0.6), hospitalization (P = 0.4), or transplantation (P = 0.7).
Limitations: The questionnaire nonresponse rate was substantial, and nonresponders were older, with more comorbid conditions. Travel time was assessed by using a single nonvalidated question.
Conclusions: Longer travel time is associated significantly with greater mortality risk and decreased HR-QOL. Exploring opportunities to decrease travel time should be incorporated into the dialysis clinical routine.