Purpose: To understand the patient's perspective on complications associated with vascular access-related interventions.
Methods: A multi-stage comprehensive questionnaire of over 150 items was administered to 140 in-center hemodialysis patients in a large, Toronto-based academic-based facility from May 1, 2011 until July 1, 2014. The questionnaire was divided into three domains: physical complications, disruption to routine, and infection. For each of the 12 prespecified vascular access interventions, there were 9 items about the associated complications. The level of bother associated with complications was measured using a 5-point Likert scale.
Results: The mean Likert value (5 = extremely bothered) for the physical complications domain was highest for grafts at 1.92, followed closely by fistulas at 1.87, and catheters at 1.56. The mean Likert value for the "disruption of routine" domain was highest for catheters at 1.44, followed by grafts at 1.37, and fistulas at 1.33. For infectious complications of all vascular access-related interventions the mean Likert value was highest at 1.76 for catheters as compared to fistulas at 1.23 and grafts at 1.22.
Conclusions: For hemodialysis patients, the physical complications associated with needle cannulation of fistulas and grafts are a major source of dissatisfaction, while infectious complications, including catheter-related infections, are not a significant source of their concerns. Future research should focus on developing methods to effectively: (i) reduce the fear and pain associated with cannulation and (ii) educate patients about the risks associated with vascular access-related infection.