Anthropological aspect of death in dialyzed patients

Coll Antropol. 2008 Jun;32(2):587-94.


The aim of this article is to compare the incidence of thanatophobia in dialysed patients having Balkan endemic nephropathy (BEN) with a control group (N18) members where some of them have chronic renal failure (CRF), but not (BEN). We examined thanatophobia on a sample of 753 dialysed patients with chronic renal failure (CRF) in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) during the period from 1st January 2000 to 31st December 2006. The first group is a cohort consisted of 348 patients with Balkan endemic nephropathy (BEN), and the control group consisted of 405 randomly selected patients with different diagnoses of CRF (N18). The measurement instruments used were: General data list, Eysenck's Personality Questionnaire (EPQ), Beck's Anxiety Inventory (BAI), Hamilton's Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). Univariante and multivariante statistical analyses were carried out. From the multivariante analysis, the highest correlations with thanatophobia were found in these variables: avoidance of dialysis in BEN group: R=0.985, OR=0.358, CI=0.483-0.728 (95%), and in control group: R=0.550, OR=0.935, CI=0.615-0.830 (95%), age, years on dialysis, education, pervasive fear with statistical significance P=0.001. BEN group differentiates from control group: BAI-total (R=1.110, OR=0.578 (95%), CI=0.770-0.890, P=0.001), HDRS-total (R=0.995, OR=1.290 (95%), CI=1.180-1.920 P=0.001. BEN group have lower scores than the control group in MMSE-total: (R=0.430, OR=0.023 (95%), CI=0.034-2.850, P=0.001) which represents the organic part of anxiety. Thanatophobia is present in both groups, but it is more frequent in the BEN (11.70%) than in control group (7.50%). We found that thanatophobia occurs before dialysis, and that it is structured as a pervasive fear of death and is associated with endemia, years spent on dialysis, and avoidance of dialysis.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Death*
  • Balkan Nephropathy / psychology*
  • Balkan Nephropathy / therapy
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / psychology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Renal Dialysis / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires