Patient-Centered Dialysis Care: Depression, Pain, and Quality of Life

Semin Dial. Mar-Apr 2016;29(2):158-64. doi: 10.1111/sdi.12464. Epub 2016 Jan 8.


Remarkable advancements have been made in the provision of chronic dialysis therapy since its inception decades ago. A series of studies inform current dialysis dosing recommendations, while advancements in strategies to treat mineral and bone disease, acid-base and electrolyte disturbances, and anemia have facilitated the management of these well-recognized complications of ESRD. The collective result has been a model of chronic dialysis care focused principally on the achievement of metabolic and dialysis-related targets. In fact, guidelines such as the Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative put forth by the National Kidney Foundation recommend metrics that characterize successful dialysis care, including the attainment of specific solute clearance targets; maintenance of hemoglobin, calcium, phosphorous, and parathyroid hormone levels within target ranges; and the preferred use of primary arteriovenous fistulae for vascular access. This focus on serologic and dialysis-specific outcomes has helped renal providers manage the biochemical effects related to the loss of kidney function and has reduced ESRD-related morbidity and mortality. Yet, absent from this model of care is an emphasis on the treatment of bothersome symptoms and the impact of such treatment on quality of life (QOL). Among the many symptoms that affect patients on chronic dialysis, depression and pain are particularly common, strongly associated with decrements in QOL, and potentially treatable. This review discusses key research findings and unanswered questions pertaining to the prevalence, significance, and treatment of depression and pain and the effect of such treatment on QOL in patients dependent on chronic dialysis, with the broad goal of incorporating symptom management strategies into a paradigm of patient-centered dialysis care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / therapy
  • Humans
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain Management
  • Patient-Centered Care*
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life*
  • Renal Dialysis*