Psychometric Properties of the Kidney Disease Quality of Life 36-Item Short-Form Survey (KDQOL-36) in the United States

Am J Kidney Dis. 2018 Apr;71(4):461-468. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2017.07.020. Epub 2017 Nov 8.


Background: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services require that dialysis patients' health-related quality of life be assessed annually. The primary instrument used for this purpose is the Kidney Disease Quality of Life 36-Item Short-Form Survey (KDQOL-36), which includes the SF-12 as its generic core and 3 kidney disease-targeted scales: Burden of Kidney Disease, Symptoms and Problems of Kidney Disease, and Effects of Kidney Disease. Despite its broad use, there has been limited evaluation of KDQOL-36's psychometric properties.

Study design: Secondary analyses of data collected by the Medical Education Institute to evaluate the reliability and factor structure of the KDQOL-36 scales.

Settings & participants: KDQOL-36 responses from 70,786 dialysis patients in 1,381 US dialysis facilities that permitted data analysis were collected from June 1, 2015, through May 31, 2016, as part of routine clinical assessment.

Measurements & outcomes: We assessed the KDQOL-36 scales' internal consistency reliability and dialysis facility-level reliability using coefficient alpha and 1-way analysis of variance. We evaluated the KDQOL-36's factor structure using item-to-total scale correlations and confirmatory factor analysis. Construct validity was examined using correlations between SF-12 and KDQOL-36 scales and "known groups" analyses.

Results: Each of the KDQOL-36's kidney disease-targeted scales had acceptable internal consistency reliability (α=0.83-0.85) and facility-level reliability (r=0.75-0.83). Item-scale correlations and a confirmatory factor analysis model evidenced the KDQOL-36's original factor structure. Construct validity was supported by large correlations between the SF-12 Physical Component Summary and Mental Component Summary (r=0.40-0.52) and the KDQOL-36 scale scores, as well as significant differences on the scale scores between patients receiving different types of dialysis, diabetic and nondiabetic patients, and patients who were employed full-time versus not.

Limitations: Use of secondary data from a clinical registry.

Conclusions: The study provides support for the reliability and construct validity of the KDQOL-36 scales for assessment of health-related quality of life among dialysis patients.

Keywords: Dialysis; KDQOL-36; disease burden; end-stage renal disease (ESRD); health-related quality of life; hemodialysis; patient-reported outcomes; peritoneal dialysis; psychometrics; survey instrument; symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / epidemiology
  • Kidney Diseases / psychology*
  • Kidney Diseases / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Psychometrics / methods*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Registries*
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult