Purpose of review: Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) endure compromised health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Although the link between HRQOL and increased mortality in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) is well documented, less is known about the relationship between CKD and HRQOL. This article reviews the recent evidence on HRQOL, its correlates and proposed intervention strategies to improve HRQOL in CKD.
Recent findings: A growing body of literature indicates that various comorbid conditions related to CKD play a substantial role in impaired HRQOL in CKD. Hypertension, both a cause and complication of CKD, negatively affects HRQOL due to associated comorbidities, side effects from antihypertensive medications and awareness of the diagnosis. Anemia has been associated with HRQOL, but concerns about the safety of erythropoietin-stimulating agents (ESAs) have led to more conservative anemia treatment. Frailty, symptom burden and depression are also major contributory factors to HRQOL in CKD.
Summary: Certain determinants of HRQOL in CKD, namely anemia and depression, are treatable. Early identification and correction may improve overall well being of patients. Clinical trials are required to demonstrate whether treatment interventions benefit HRQOL in this high-risk population. Furthermore, whether integration of HRQOL assessment into routine clinical practice will improve HRQOL outcomes remains to be determined.