Background: Increasing patient numbers have resulted in pressure on dialysis centres and a need to reorganize dialysis treatment. This study explored patients' experiences with different dialysis modalities and investigated issues related to the patient's choice of modality, especially 'out-of-centre' dialysis (i.e. modalities other than CHD).
Methods: Six focus group interviews were conducted with 24 dialysis patients, 3 pre-dialysis patients and 18 relatives. Each focus group comprised patients on one type of dialysis, i.e. CHD, self-care CHD, HHD, CAPD/APD, aAPD or pre-dialysis patients. Based on a semi-structured interview guide, the group discussions centred on advantages and disadvantages of dialysis modalities, problems experienced and their (possible) solutions and patient involvement in choice of modality.
Results: The focus groups participants considered that each dialysis modality has its advantages and disadvantages. Flexibility, independence and feelings of security were key factors in determining choice of modality, with maintenance of a normal life being a major goal. Patients and their relatives want to participate in choice of modality, but a genuine offer of out-of-centre dialysis including professional support and appropriate and timely education is needed to encourage a greater use of modalities other than CHD.
Conclusions: No single dialysis modality emerged as offering the best solution for patients with end-stage renal disease. In the absence of absolute clinical contraindications, the treatment of choice should be the modality that best accommodates the patients' preferences for their daily activities and lifestyle. A move towards more patients on out-of-centre dialysis requires a greater focus on pre-dialysis patients and closer consideration of patients' preferences and current lifestyle.