Palliative care for advanced renal disease: a summary of the evidence and future direction

Palliat Med. 2013 Oct;27(9):817-21. doi: 10.1177/0269216313491796. Epub 2013 Jun 13.

Abstract

Background: Patients with end-stage kidney disease can have a significant symptom burden with complex co-morbidities. Compounding this is the choice between dialysis and conservative management. NEED FOR SUPPORTIVE AND PALLIATIVE CARE: For individuals with end-stage kidney disease, palliative care can provide support with symptom management, advance care planning and psychological support and education for both patients and their families. Optimum management may be achieved through collaboration between renal and palliative care professionals, combining their different skills in addressing symptom and medication management. Palliative and supportive care must be patient-centred to be effective. Multidisciplinary cross-organisational input is central to address the complex care needs of these patients, particularly for those in the community. WHAT IS KNOWN/WHAT IS NOT KNOWN: There is growing awareness of the need for research into the palliative care needs of those with end-stage kidney disease. Research has shown that patients receiving dialysis may prioritise quality of life over survival time, partly due to the constraints that they feel dialysis imposes on them. Systematic study of those opting for a conservative management pathway rather than dialysis is beginning to happen.

Research implications: Research is required into what underpins the preferences and priorities of patients with end-stage kidney disease to provide them with the best palliative and supportive care. POLICY AND PRACTICE: As more patients opt to follow the conservative pathway for their advanced renal disease, a change in service provision is required, with greater regular inclusion of palliative and supportive needs to address the gap in the care provision for this growing group.

Keywords: End-stage kidney disease; advance care planning; dialysis; palliative care; quality of life.

MeSH terms

  • Advance Care Planning*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / psychology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Palliative Care*
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Quality of Life*
  • Renal Dialysis / psychology*